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LIBRARY 

OK  THK 

UNIVERSITY  OF  CALIFORNIA. 

GIF^T  OF" 


Received 
Accession  No. 


/ 

,189.%.- 

.    Class  No. 


•    . 


FRANCES    POWER    COBBE. 
From  "Life  of  Frances  Power  Cobbe."     By  Herself. 


THE  PEAK  IN  DARIEN, 


WITH    SOME  OTHER  INQUIRIES    TOUCHING    CONCERNS    OF  THE 
SOUL  AND  THE  BODY. 


AN    OCTAVE   OF   ESSAYS 

BY 

FRANCES  POWER  COBBE. 


"  Das  Leben  1st  der  Giiter  hochstes  nicht ; 
Der  Uebel  grosstes  aber  ist  die  Schuld." 

Die  Braut  von  Messina. 


BOSTON : 
GEO.  H.  ELLIS,  141  FRANKLIN  STREET. 

LONDON:  WILLIAMS  &  NORGATE. 
1882. 


L-  v 


PREFACE. 


MY  last  little  book,  Lecture*  on  the  Duties  of 
Women,  was  addressed  principally  to  the  young 
of  my  own  sex.  The  present  volume  is  intended 
for  my  contemporaries  who  are  daily  brought  face 
to  face  with  some  of  the  darker  problems  of  the 
time,  or  are  led  by  their  advancing  years  to  ponder 
ever  more  earnestly  on  the  mystery  of  the  great 
transition.  In  these  various  papers, —  some  new, 
some  already  published  in  different  periodicals, —  I 
have  striven  to  meet  fairly  the  questions  whether 
the  denial  of  God  and  immortality  be  indeed  (as 
Agnostics  and  Comtists  are  wont  to  boast)  a  "  mag- 
nanimous "  creed,  whether  life  be  truly  (as  Leopardi 
and  Schopenhauer  and  hundreds  of  their  English 
disciples  din  daily  in  our  ears)  a  burden  and  a  curse, 
and  whether  (as  much  recent  legislation  and  news- 
paper literature  would  seem  to  teach)  bodily  health 
be  after  all  the  summum  bonum  for  which  personal 
freedom,  courage,  humanity,  and  purity  ought  all  to 
be  sacrificed? 


6  PBEFACE. 

To  these  discussions,  I  have  added  one  on  the 
"  Fitness  of  Women  for  the  Ministry  of  Religion," — 
a  subject,  I  believe,  destined  soon  to  acquire  impor- 
tance,—  with  two  or  three  less  serious  papers  on 
other  matters  touching  moral  questions ;  and,  in 
conclusion,  I  have  returned  to  a  speculation  con- 
cerning the  immediate  entry  into  the  life  after  death 
which  I  find  has  possessed  interest  for  many  readers. 
That  "  Peak  in  Darien,"  which  we  must  all  ascend 
in  our  turn, —  the  apex  of  two  worlds,  whence  the 
soul  may  possibly  descry  the  horizonless  Pacific 
of  eternity, —  is  the  turning-point  of  human  hope. 
And  it  appears  to  me  infinitely  strange  that  so  little 
attention  has  been  paid  to  the  cases  wherein  indica- 
tions seem  to  have  been  given  of  the  perception  by 
the  dying  of  blessed  presences  revealed  to  them  even 
as  the  veil  of  flesh  has  dropped  away.  Were  I  per- 
mitted to  record  with  names  and  references  half  the 
instances  of  this  occurrence  which  have  been  nar- 
rated to  me,  this  short  essay  might  have  been  swelled 
to  a  volume.  It  is  my  wish,  however,  that  it  should 
serve  to  suggest  observation  and  provoke  the  inter- 
change of  experiences,  rather  than  be  considered 
as  pretending  to  decide  affirmatively  the  question 
wherewith  it  deals. 

Perhaps  it  may  be  as  well  to  forestall  any  mis- 
apprehension by  stating  plainly  that  I  utterly 


PBBFACB.  7 

disbelieve,  and  even  regard  with  intense  dislike, 
all  so-called  "  Spiritualist "  manifestations  and 
attempts  to  recall  the  dead;  and  that  I  have 
never  found  any  sufficient  testimony  for  stories  of 
ghosts  or  apparitions  of  the  departed  beheld  by  men 
and  women  still  in  the  midst  of  life.  Only  at  the 
very  moment  when  we  are  passing  into  their  arms 
does  it  seem  to  me  that  the  law  of  our  being  may 
permit  us  to  recognize  once  more  the  beloved  ones 
who  are  "not  lost,  but  gone  before."  The  lines  of 
W.  J.  Fox  precisely  express  my  thought  on  this 
subject :  — 

Call  them  from  the  dead ! 

Vain  the  call  must  be ; 

But  the  hand  of  death  shall  lay, 

Like  that  of  Christ,  its  healing  clay 

On  eyes  which  then  shall  see 

That  glorious  company. 

FRANCES  POWER  COBBB. 
JULY,  1882.        v 


CONTENTS. 


PAGB 

I.    MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM,       11 

II.    HYGEIOLATRY, 77 

III.  PESSIMISM,  AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS,     .    .  89 

IV.  ZOOPHILY, 125 

V.    SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE, 151 

VI.    THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN  FOR  THE  MINISTRY 

OF  RELIGION, 179 

VII.    THE  HOUSE  ON  THE  SHORE  OF  ETERNITY,    .     .  235 

VIII.     THE  PEAK  IN  DARIEN:  THE  RIDDLE  OF  DEATH,  245 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 


Of  THE 

TTNIVERSIT Y  j 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 


"  BE  of  good  cheer,  brother ! "  said  John  Bradford 
to  his  fellow-martyr  while  the  fagots  were  kindling : 
"we  shall  have  a  brave  supper  in  heaven  with  the 
Lord  to-night !  "  "  Be  of  good  cheer,  everybody  ! " 
cry  an  army  of  modern  confessors,  seated  in  library 
chairs :  "  there  is  no  heaven  and  no  Lord,  and  when 
we  die  there  will  be  an  end  of  us  all,  in  saecula 
saeculorum;  but  the  generations  who  come  after  us 
will  be  greatly  edified  by  our  beautiful  books  and 
our  instructive  example." 

Perhaps  the  moral  vitality  of  our  age  is  in  no 
way  better  exemplified  than  by  the  fact  that  certain 
doubts,  which  seem  to  strike  mortal  blows  at  the 
head  and  heart  of  human  virtue,  yet  leave  it 
breathing,  and  even  pulsating  with  aspirations  after 
some  yet  loftier  excellence  than  saints  and  heroes 
have  hitherto  attained.  To  look  back  to  the  "  infi- 
dels "  with  whom  Massillon  and  Jeremy  Taylor  had 
to  do,  and  compare  them  with  the  Agnostics  of  our 


12  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

time,  is  indeed  more  encouraging  than  to  compare 
the  "faithful"  of  past  centuries  with  those  of  the 
present  age.  While  the  old  Atheist  sheltered  his 
vice  behind  a  rampart  of  unbelief  where  no  appeals 
could  reach  him,  the  new  Agnostic  honestly  main- 
tains that  his  opinions  are  the  very  best  founda- 
tions of  virtue.  No  one  can  for  a  moment  say  of 
him  that  he  chooses  darkness  rather  than  light 
because  his  deeds  are  evil.  If  it  be  (as  we  think) 
darkness  which  he  has  chosen,  there  can  be  no 
question  that  his  deeds  are  good,  and  that  his  con- 
ceptions of  duty  are  truly  elevated  and  far-reaching, 
and  enforced  by  every  argument  which  he  has  left 
himself  at  liberty  to  use.  Renouncing  faith  in  God 
and  in  the  life  hereafter, —  that  is  to  say,  in  G-ood- 
ness  Infinite  and  G-oodness  Immortalized, —  he  retains 
the  most  fervent  faith  in  goodness  as  developed  in 
human  life, —  that  is  to  say,  in  goodness  finite  in 
degree  and  in  duration.  If  we  are  to  accept  his 
own  statement  of  the  case,  the  Agnostic  has  com- 
pletely turned  the  front  of  the  theological  battle. 
It  is  now  the  pagans  who  have  seized  and  hold 
aloft  the  sacred  labarum  of  duty  and  self-sacrifice, 
and  in  hoc  signo  are  destined  to  victory. 

The  claim  is  one  of  the  gravest  which  can  be  put 
forth  between  man  and  man.  It  was  not  easy — it 
was,  alas !  often  beyond  our  strength  —  to  combat 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  13 

our  doubts  or  those  of  others,  while  yet  we  fought 
against  them  as  a  sailor  fights  against  enemies  cut- 
ting his  anchor  cable  on  a  stormy  night.  We  stand 
amazed  and  disarmed  by  the  strange  intelligence 
that,  when  these  doubts  have  done  their  work,  and 
cast  us  adrift  altogether  from  allegiance  to  God  and 
hope  of  another  life,  then,  when  all  seems  lost,  we 
shall  suddenly  discover  that  we  have  touched  the 
Fortunate  Isles  of  virtue  and  peace.  Only  the 
thorough  sceptic,  we  are  assured,  can  be  the  perfect 
saint.  Nobody  can  disinterestedly  serve  his  brother 
on  earth  till  he  is  entirely  persuaded  he  has  no 
Father  in  heaven.  The  fruit  of  the  Tree  of  Knowl- 
edge (of  course  it  is  always  assumed  that  it  is  a  tree 
of  genuine  knowledge  on  which  Atheism  grows)  is 
to  be  desired,  not  only  because  it  will  make  us 
"wise,"  but  because  it  will  make  us  good.  Who 
will  hesitate  any  more  to  pluck  and  eat? 

To  the  consideration  of  this  now  common  pre- 
tension of  Agnosticism  to  be  the  true  FRIEND  OF 
VIRTUE,  in  the  room  of  the  old  delusion  of  religion, 
the  following  pages  will  be  devoted.  For  the  pur- 
poses of  our  particular  argument  and  to  avoid 
entangling  ourselves  with  too  many  collateral  ques- 
tions, I  shall  treat  it  here  as  the  Assumption  of  the 
Moral  Superiority  of  Atheism  over  Theism.  Is  that 
assumption  justifiable?  I,  for  one,  am  entirely 


14  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

ready  to  admit  that,  if  there  be  anything  in  the  faith 
in  God  and  immortality  which  detracts  from  the 
highest  conceivable  perfection  of  human  virtue, —  if, 
in  short,  Atheism  have  a  better  morality  to  teach 
than  Theism, —  then  the  case  of  Theism  must  be 
abandoned.  The  religion  which  is  not  the  holiest 
conceivable  by  the  man  who  holds  it  is  condemned 
ipso  facto. 

For  the  present,  I  may  assume  that  no  important 
difference  of  opinion  exists  as  to  the  practical  rules 
of  morality.  It  is  the  proper  motives  to  a  virtuous 
and  self-sacrificing  life  which  Agnostics  claim  to 
place  on  higher  ground  than  that  which  has  been 
hitherto  given  to  them.  They  propose  to  tell  us 
to  "  do  justice  and  love  mercy "  both  in  a  better 
and  more  disinterested  way  than  while  we  added 
to  those  unquestionable  duties  the  mistaken  at- 
tempt to  walk  humbly  with  our  God.  The  ques- 
tion lies  in  a  nutshell, —  Can  they  do  it  ?  Is  there 
anything  in  the  true  Theistic  faith  detracting  from 
the  disinterestedness  of  virtue,  or  calculated  to  rob 
it  of  a  single  ray  of  purity  and  glory  ?  This  must 
be  our  first  contention,  since  religion  now  stands 
on  its  defence  as  a  basis  of  morality.  When  it  is 
settled,  it  may  perhaps  appear  that  religion  may 
justly  again  assume  the  offensive,  and  challenge 
Atheism  to  prove  its  capacity  for  serving  equally 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  15 

efficiently  as  a  support  for  the  virtue  of  humanity  ; 
and,  if  it  appear  that  to  such  a  challenge  no  sat- 
isfactory reply  can  be  given,  then  it  will  be  man- 
ifest that,  in  their  expressions  of  satisfaction  and 
joy  at  the  anticipated  downfall  of  religion,  Atheists 
display  disregard  of  the  moral  interests  of  their  race. 
Let  the  lists  be  cleared  in  the  first  place.  I 
shall  not  be  expected  to  defend  all  the  base  and 
demoralizing  things  which,  in  the  misused  name 
of  Christianity,  have  been  inculcated  concerning 
"  Other-worldliness,"  —  the  doing  good  for  the  sake 
of  getting  to  heaven,  and  avoiding  evil  from  fear  of 
hell.  Since  the  day,  recorded  by  Joinville,  when 
the  mysterious  old  woman  carried  her  waterpot  and 
torch  before  St.  Louis,  and  told  him  she  intended 
to  put  out  the  fires  of  hell  and  burn  up  heaven,  so 
that  men  might  learn  to  love  God  for  his  own  sake, 
and  not  from  fear  or  hope, —  since  that  distant  time, 
there  have  not  been  wanting  righteous  souls  who 
have  girned  and  spurned  at  the  vile  lessons  current 
in  the  Churches,  and  asked  with  Kingsley, — 

"Is  selfishness, — for  time,  a  sin, —  stretched  out  into  eternity, 
Celestial  prudence?" 

Beyond  a  doubt,  one  of  the  heaviest  charges  against 
the  popular  creed  is  that,  while  its  ministers  have 
raged  against  the  smallest  theological  error,  and 


16  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

convulsed  the  world  by  their  ridiculous  disputes 
concerning  mysteries  altogether  beyond  the  reach 
of  human  comprehension,  they  have  complacently 
endured  and  even  fostered  moral  heresies  which 
withered  up  the  very  roots  of  virtue.  The  whole 
tone  of  ordinary  Romish  exhortation,  faire  son  salut, 
is  often  base  beyond  expression;  and  the  teaching 
of  the  Church  of  England  in  the  last  century  was 
no  better.  Here  are  some  specimens  of  it.  Ruther- 
ford says  (Nature  and  Obligations  of  Virtue,  1744), 
"  Every  man's  happiness  is  the  ultimate  end  which 
reason  teaches  him  to  pursue,  and  the  constant  and 
uniform  practice  of  virtue  becomes  our  duty  when 
revelation  has  informed  us  that  God  will  make  us 
finally  happy  in  a  life  after  this."  Paley  is  no 
better.  He  says :  *  "  Virtue  is  the  doing  good  to 
mankind  in  obedience  to  the  will  of  God  and  for 
the  sake  of  everlasting  happiness.  According  to 
which  definition,  the  good  of  mankind  is  the  subject, 
the  will  of  God  the  rule,  and  everlasting  happiness 
the  motive  of  virtue"  Waterland,  the  great  cham- 
pion of  Trinitarianism,  went  even  further.  He  says 
that  "being  just  and  grateful  without  future  pros- 
pects has  as  much  of  moral  virtue  in  it  as  folly  or 
indiscretion  has"  These  are  the  kind  of  doctrines 
which  have  been  placidly  admitted  among  the  recog- 
nized teachings  of  the  great  Christian  Churches. 

*  Moral  Philosophy,  B.  I.,  chap.  vii. 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  17 

Nor  have  some  of  the  philosophers  proved  a  whit 
more  conscious  of  the  simple  notion  of  duty.  Ben- 
tham,  for  example,*  plainly  lays  it  down  that  for 
a  man  to  give  up  a  larger  pleasure  of  his  own  for 
a  smaller  one  of  his  neighbor's  is  an  act  not  of 
virtue,  but  of  folly. 

Certainly,  if  the  new  Agnostics  had  no  types  of 
religion  or  morality  save  these  thoroughly  debased 
ones  wherewith  to  compare  their  system,  they 
might  well  claim  to  be  the  evangelists  of  a  purer 
gospel.  Better,  assuredly  better,  would  it  be  to 
believe  in  no  God  than  to  pay  homage  to  the  all- 
adorable  Author  of  Good  for  the  sake  of  the  pay- 
ment we  expect  him  to  give  us.  Better,  assuredly 
better,  to  expect  no  life  beyond  the  grave  than  to 
poison  every  act  of  courage,  justice,  or  beneficence 
by  the  vile  notion  of  being  rewarded  for  it  in 
heaven;  or  to  refrain  from  treachery  and  cruelty 
and  lies,  merely,  like  a  beaten  hound,  from  dread 
of  the  bloody  scourge  of  hell. 

But  it  would  be  an  insult  to  the  well-informed 
and  widely-read  advocates  of  Agnosticism,  if  we 
were  to  assume  for  a  moment  that  they  were  igno- 
rant that  this  base  alloy  of  religion  has  been  almost 
universally  repudiated  by  the  higher  class  of  Eng- 
lish divines  of  the  present  day,  of  every  shade  of 
Orthodoxy;  while,  outside  of  the  Churches,  there 

*  Deontology,  p.  191. 


18  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

is  not  a  religious  man  who  does  not  regard  them 
with  unmitigated  disgust.  The  question  really  is, 
not  whether  religion  may  be  made  to  corrupt 
morality  with  bribes  and  threats,  but  whether  it 
properly  does  so;  whether  a  religious  man  ought, 
in  accordance  with  his  theology,  to  be  less  disin- 
terested than  an  Atheist.  To  reply  to  this  question, 
it  seems  only  necessary  to  recall  what  a  Theist  be- 
lieves about  God  and  immortality  as  concerned  with 
his  own  virtue. 

A  Theist  believes,  then,  that  the  goodness  and 
justice,  which  the  Agnostic  recognizes  and  loves  so 
well  in  their  human  manifestations,  have  existence 
beyond  humanity,  and  are  carried  to  ideal  perfec- 
tion in  a  Being  who  is,  in  some  sense,  the  Soul  and 
Ruler  of  the  universe. 

This  belief,  at  all  events  (whether  legitimately 
held  or  only  a  dream),  cannot,  I  presume,  so  far  as 
it  goes,  be  charged  with  detracting  from  the  purity 
of  virtue.  Goodness  cannot  be  esteemed  less  good, 
or  justice  less  just,  because  there  exists  One  who  is 
supremely  good  and  just. 

Further,  as  regards  himself,  the  Theist  believes 
that  this  supremely  good  and  just  Being  so  con- 
stituted his  nature  and  the  world  around  him  as 
that  the  law  of  goodness  and  justice  should  be 
known  to  him  as  the  sacred  rule,  whereby  he  is 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  19 

inwardly  bound  to  determine  his  actions  and  sen- 
timents. In  other  words,  he  believes  that  he  has 
acquired  his  moral  sense  of  God,  and  not  from  any 
undesigned,  fortuitous  order  of  things  which  may 
have  impressed  it  as  an  hereditary  idea  on  his  brain. 
I  am  at  a  loss  to  guess  how  this  step  further  can 
be  supposed  to  be  hostile  to  the  disinterestedness 
of  virtue.  It  is  easy  to  see  how  the  opposite  theory 
of  the  origin  of  conscience,  as  exhibited  in  Mr. 
Darwin's  Descent  of  Man, —  whereby  the  authority 
of  the  human  hi  tuition,  "  Thou  shalt  do  no  murder," 
is  traced  to  the  same  origin  as  the  bees'  intuition 
of  the  duty  of  killing  their  brothers,  the  drones 
(namely,  the  hereditary  transmission  of  ideas  found 
conducive  to  the  welfare  of  the  tribe), —  should 
dethrone  Conscience  from  her  assumed  supremacy, 
and  place  her  among  the  crowd  of  other  hereditary 
notions,  neither  more  nor  less  deserving  of  honor. 
And,  on  the  other  hand,  the  attribution  of  our 
moral  ideas,  directly  or  indirectly,  to  the  teaching  of 
a  Being  immeasurably  above  us, —  a  theory  which 
represents  conscience  as  a  ray  shot  downward  from 
a  sun,  instead  of  a  marsh-fire  illumined  under  special 
conditions  of  social  existence,  and  liable  to  blaze 
up,  die  down,  or  flit  hither  and  thither  as  they  may 
determine, —  must  inevitably  elevate  and  sanctify 
the  laws  of  morals  to  our  apprehension.  In  truth, 


20  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

it  is  obvious  that,  had  the  first  hypothesis  (of  the 
hereditary  transmission  of  useful  ideas)  been  heard 
of  in  the  days  of  our  ancestors,  the  "  mystic  exten- 
sion "  (as  Mr.  Mill  calls  it)  of  utility  into  morality 
could  never  have  been  accomplished,  and  repentance 
and  remorse  would  have  been  unknown  experiences. 
But  all  this  refers  to  the  practical  authority  of  moral 
laws.  It  is  with  the  disinterestedness  of  the  man 
who  obeys  them  that  we  are  at  present  concerned ; 
and  this  disinterestedness  is  not,  that  I  perceive, 
influenced  one  way  or  the  other  by  the  theory  he 
may  hold  of  how  he  comes  by  his  knowledge  of 
them. 

But  now  we  reach  the  point  where,  it  is  to  be 
presumed,  the  Atheist  finds  ground  for  his  claim  to 
superior  disinterestedness.  The  Theist  believes  not 
only  that  goodness  and  justice  are  attributes  of  God, 
and  that  God  has  taught  him  to  be  good  and  just, 
but  that  God  further  holds  what  the  old  Schoolmen 
called  the  Justitia  Rectoria  of  the  universe, —  that 
he  so  ordains  things  as  that,  sooner  or  later,  good 
will  surely  befall  the  good,  and  evil  the  evil.  So 
much  as  this  is  included  in  the  simplest  elements  of 
Theism.  In  its  fuller  development,  Theism  teaches 
more :  namely,  that  God  takes  the  interest  of  a 
Father  in  the  moral  welfare  of  his  children ;  that  he 
has  created  every  human  soul  (and  doubtless  thou- 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  21 

sands  of  races  of  other  intelligent  beings)  for  the 
express  purpose  that  each  should  attain,  through  the 
teaching  and  trials  of  existence,  to  virtue,  and  so 
enter  into  the  supreme  bliss  of  sympathy  and  com- 
munion with  himself.  Theism  thus  understood 
teaches  that  God  is  perpetually  training  each  soul 
for  that  sublime  end,  inspiring  it  with  light,  answer- 
ing its  prayers  for  spiritual  aid,  punishing  it  for  its 
errors,  hedging  up  its  way  with  thorns  to  prevent 
its  wanderings,  and  finally  certainly  conducting  it, 
through  this  life  and  perhaps  many  lives  to  come,  to 
the  holiness  and  blessedness  for  which  it  was  made. 
The  position  of  a  Theist  differs  therefore  essentially 
from  that  of  an  Atheist  as  regards  the  practice  of 
virtue,  inasmuch  as  the  Atheist  thinks  he  has  no 
superhuman  spectator  or  sympathizer;  that  the 
thoughts  and  feelings  which  awaken  his  conscience 
and  move  his  heart  do  not  originate  in  any  mind 
out  of  his  own ;  that  the  woes  of  his  life  bear  with 
them  no  moral  meaning  of  retribution  or  expiation ; 
and  finally  that,  whether  he  be  a  hero  or  a  coward, 
a  saint  or  a  sinner,  it  will  be  all  one,  so  far  as  himself 
is  concerned,  when  the  hour  of  his  death  has 
sounded.  His  actions  may  and  will  have  important 
consequences  to  other  men,  but  as  regards  his  own 
destiny  they  can  have  no  consequences  at  all;  for 
the  grave  will  receive  everything  that  remains  of 


22  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

him.  The  virtues  he  may  have  acquired  with  un- 
utterable struggles  will  die  away  into  nothingness, 
like  the  sound  of  a  broken  harp-string.  He  will 
neither  rejoin  his  dead  friends  nor  come  into  any 
fresh  consciousness  of  God.  Neither  dead  friends 
nor  God  have  any  existence ;  and  a  little  sooner  or 
later,  as  he  may  chance  to  be  a  more  or  less  impor- 
tant person,  he  will  be  altogether  forgotten,  and  no 
being  in  the  universe  will  ever  more  remember  that 
he  once  was. 

Now,  I  think  it  would  be  idle  to  deny  that  it  must 
be  far  harder  to  be  virtuous  under  the  shadow  of 
this  Atheism  than  in  the  sunshine  of  Theism.  The 
tax  and  strain  upon  the  moral  nature  of  a  man  who 
holds  the  views  just  indicated  of  the  emptiness  of 
the  universe  of  any  One  absolutely  good  and  just, 
of  the  low  and  haphazard  origin  of  conscience,  and 
of  the  utter  loneliness  and  unaided  state  wherewith 
man  pursues  his  weary  course  from  the  cradle  to  the 
inevitable,  eternal  grave,  must  be  simply  enormous. 
All  honor,  sincere  and  hearty  honor,  and  full  recog- 
nition of  their  noble  disinterestedness,  be  to  those 
Atheists  who,  under  such  strain,  yet  struggle  suc- 
cessfully and  incessantly  to  do  good  and  not  evil  all 
their  days,  and  to  die  bravely  and  calmly,  letting  go 
their  grasp  of  life  and  joy  and  love,  and  sinking  with- 
out a  groan  under  the  waters  which  are  to  cover 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  23 

them  for  evermore.  There  is  something  in  the  self- 
sustained,  Promethean  courage  of  such  a  man  which 
commands  our  admiration ;  and  we  can  well  imagine 
him  looking  round  on  his  suffering  fellows  pitifully, 
as  on  his  orphaned  and  disinherited  brothers  and 
sisters,  with  infinite  compassion,  deeming  them  des- 
tined like  himself  to  perish  with  all  their  aspirations 
and  capacities  disappointed  and  unfulfilled.  For 
such  a  man  to  devote  himself  to  the  labors  of  prac- 
tical benevolence  and  the  relief  of  the  woe  which 
surrounds  him,  whence  he  usually  draws  his  strong- 
est arguments  for  his  desolate  creed,  would  seem 
to  be  the  fittest,  if  not  the  only  fit  pursuit; 
and,  when  we  behold  him  engaged  in  it  (as  in 
instances  I  could  readily  name),  our  whole  hearts 
recognize  his  virtue  as  absolutely  beautiful  and  dis- 
interested. But  because  the  Atheist's  virtue,  when 
he  is  virtuous,  is  without  alloy,  is  there  any  just 
reason  to  hold  that  it  is  more  pure  than  that  of  the 
Theist  ?  His  task  is,  as  I  have  readily  admitted,  the 
harder  of  the  two;  so  hard  indeed  is  it  that  there 
seem  the  gravest  reasons  for  fearing  that,  if  a  few 
noble  spirits  perform  it,  the  mass  of  tried  and 
tempted  men  who  can  scarcely  lift  themselves  from 
their  selfishness  even  with  the  two  wings  of  Faith 
and  Hope  will  lie  prone  in  the  very  mire  of  vice 
when  those  wings  are  broken.  But,  because  the 


24  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

Atheist's  duty  is  harder  to  do,  is  it  consequently 
better  done?  Is  the  music  which  he  draws  from 
that  one  string  of  philanthropy  sweeter  than  the 
full  chord  of  all  the  religious  and  social  affections 
together  ? 

Let  us  revert  to  the  points  of  difference  between 
the  two  creeds  as  above  enumerated.  Is  a  man 
necessarily  self-interested  in  doing  the  will  of  a 
Being  whom  he  loves  and  hopes  by  serving  to 
approach  and  resemble?  Of  course,  if  he  is  look- 
ing for  payment, —  for  health,  wealth,  happiness 
on  earth  or  celestial  glory, —  for  any  adventitious 
reward  outside  of  the  fact  of  becoming  better  and 
nearer  to  God, —  then,  indeed,  his  service  is  self- 
interested.  He  is  a  mercenary  in  the  army  of 
martyrs.  In  strict  ethics,  his  conduct,  however 
exactly  legal,  is  not  virtuous;  for  virtue  can  only 
be  absolutely  without  side-looks  to  contingent  profit, 
present  or  future.  I  presume  that,  when  Agnostics 
boast  of  the  superior  disinterestedness  of  the  virtue 
they  inculcate  over  that  of  religious  men,  they  think 
(and  cannot  divest  themselves  of  the  early  acquired 
habit  of  thinking)  of  religion  as  of  this  kind  of 
labor-and-wages  system, —  hard  duty  below,  high 
glory  above, —  with  perhaps  the  additional  compli- 
cation of  certain  scholastic  doctrines  of  imputed 
righteousness.  But  it  is  time  this  confusion  should 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  25 

cease.  Love  of  goodness  impersonated  in  G-od  is  not 
a  less  disinterested,  though  naturally  a  more  fervent, 
sentiment  than  love  of  goodness  in  the  abstract. 
The  Theist,  in  his  attempt  to  obey  by  good  deeds 
the  will  of  the  Being  he  loves,  acts  as  simply  as  the 
Atheist,  who  loves  the  good  deed,  thinking  that  no 
being  higher  in  the  scale  of  existence  than  himself 
has  any  appreciation  of  the  difference  between  good 
and  evil.  The  Theist,  indeed,  adds  to  his  love  of 
goodness  per  se  a  love  of  goodness  impersonated  in 
God,  who  desires  good  actions  to  be  done,*  and 
possibly  also  a  hope  that,  by  doing  good  now,  he 
may  be  given  the  power  to  do  it  again  and  again  for 
ever ;  but  it  is  all  the  same  charmed  circle  of  doing 
good  for  goodness*  sake,  out  of  which  he  never 
emerges  into  any  such  motive  as  doing  good  for  the 
sake  of  honor,  prosperity,  or  heavenly  bliss  in  a 
golden  city.  The  sole  thing  which  the  Theist  asks 
of  God  as  the  reward  of  obedience  is  the  power  to 
obey  better  in  future,  the  privilege  of  obeying  for- 
ever. The  payment  of  his  virtue  is  to  be  virtuous 

*Miss  Martineau  says:  "I  saw  with  the  pain  of  disgust  how  much 
lower  a  thing  it  is  to  lead  even  the  loftiest  life  from  a  regard  to  the  will  or 
mind  of  any  other  being  than  from  a  natural  working  out  of  our  own 
powers"  (Autobiography,  Vol.  II.).  I  must  humbly  confess  I  have  not 
come  yet  to  see  anything  of  the  kind.  Provided  that  the  Being  to  whose 
will  we  have  regard  is  Supreme  Goodness  itself,  it  seems  to  me  infinitely 
higher  to  strive  to  assimilate  our  will  to  His  than  to  "  work  out  our  own 
powers." 


26  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

now  and  throughout  eternity.  Whether  it  be  in 
this  life  or  another,  there  is  no  difference ;  no  new 
principle  comes  into  play ;  no  bribe  unsought  for 
here  is  hoped  for  there.  He  says  to  God :  "  It  is  a 
joy  to  serve  Thee,  but  infinitely  greater  is  the  joy  to 
serve  Thee  with  the  assurance  that  the  term  of  my 
service  will  never  expire.  Precious  is  the  privilege 
of  calling  Thee  Father.  How  glad  then  am  I  that  I 
shall  be  a  child  at  Thy  feet  forever !  Lord,  I  seek  no 
heaven  hereafter.  I  covet  no  abode  of  bliss,  no  out- 
ward reward  above.  To  be  with  Thee  is  my  heaven 
and  my  salvation  and  the  only  reward  I  seek.  As  I 
abide  in  Thee  now,  may  I  continue  to  live  in  Thee, 
O  Father;  and  to  grow  in  wisdom  and  love  and 
purity  and  joy  in  Thee,  time  without  end."  * 

Surely,  it  is  altogether  absurd  to  speak  of  this 
religion  as  involving  any,  even  the  very  slightest 
shade  of  interestedness  or  detraction  from  the  high- 
est conceivable  type  of  human  virtue.  If  it  deserve 
such  a  condemnation,  then  must  likewise  stand 
condemned  the  most  pure  and  exalted  human  love 
which  friend  has  ever  felt  for  friend, — for  this  also, 
by  its  very  nature,  seeks  to  serve  for  love's  sake, 
to  arrive  at  perfect  harmony,  to  dwell  with  the 
beloved  in  unbroken  and  everlasting  union. 

Turn  we  now  to  the  other  side  of  the  subject. 
Theism  has  been,  I  hope,  vindicated  from  the 

*  Alone  to  the  Alone,  p.  110,  third  edition. 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  27 

charge  of  interestedness.  What  shall  we  say  to 
the  general  ethical  aspect  of  Agnosticism,  which 
assumes  to  be  the  nobler  system?  Admitting  the 
blameless  conduct  and  the  high  aspirations  of  some 
of  its  professors,  what  value  shall  we  attach  td 
their  claim  to  be  the  heralds  of  a  higher  morality? 

If  I  may,  without  offence,  condense  their  lessons 
in  a  very  obvious  parallel,  they  amount  to  this 
"symbol":  "Whosoever  will  be  saved,  before  all 
things  it  is  necessary  that  he  cease  to  believe  either 
in  one  God  or  in  three ;  and  that  he  be  fully  assured 
that  those  who  have  done  good  and  those  who  have 
done  evil  shall  alike  go  into  everlasting  nothing- 
ness." This  creed  piously  accepted,  he  will  advance 
to  perfection  and  outrun  in  two  ways  any  excellence 
which  has  been  hitherto  attained. 

1st.  While  recognizing  that,  so  far  as  he  himself 
is  concerned,  death  means  the  annihilation  of  con- 
sciousness, he  will  act  throughout  his  life  with  a 
deep  and  conscientious  concern  for  the  consequences 
of  his  actions  to  those  who  come  after  him  or,  as 
Mr.  Frederick  Harrison  expresses  it,  to  his  own 
posthumous  activity. 

2d.  By  welcoming  the  conclusions  of  Atheism, 
and  especially  the  doctrine  of  the  annihilation  of 
consciousness  at  death,  not  as  a  sorrowful  truth, 
but  as  the  latest  and  brightest  gospel  of  good 


28  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

tidings;  and  proclaiming,  on  all  suitable  occasions, 
that  they  afford  a  better  stand-point  and  outlook 
for  humanity  than  any  faith  or  hope  which  has  been 
hitherto  entertained. 

The  first  of  these  doctrines  was  set  forth,  a  few 
years  ago,  in  two  eloquent  and  affecting  papers,  by 
Mr.  Frederick  Harrison,  in  the  Nineteenth  Century. 
How  much  sympathy  I  feel  with  a  great  deal 
which  is  said  in  these  papers,*  how  sincerely  I 
respect  Mr.  Harrison's  noble  conception  of  the  aim 
of  life,  even  where  I  most  completely  misdoubt  the 
validity  of  the  method  he  proposes  for  attaining  it, 
there  is  scarcely  need  to  say.  It  is  precisely  be- 
cause such  Positivists  as  he  and  Mr.  Morley  and 
the  late  George  Eliot,  and  such  Agnostics  as  many 
I  could  name,  assume  such  really  high  ground  in 
their  teaching,  and  appeal  (though,  as  I  think,  in 
a  fallacious  way)  to  our  very  noblest  sympathies 
and  aspirations,  that  I  feel  urged  to  raise  my  feeble 

*E.g.,  the  following  passage,  which  deserves  to  be  reprinted  a  hun- 
dred times,  Nineteenth  Century,  July,  1877,  p.  832  :  "  We  entirely  agree 
with  the  theologians  that  our  age  is  beset  with  a  grievous  danger  of 
materialism.  There  is  a  school  of  teachers  abroad,  and  they  have  found 
an  echo  here,  who  dream  that  victorious  vivisection  will  ultimately  win 
them  anatomical  solutions  of  man's  moral  and  spiritual  mysteries. 
Such  unholy  nightmares,  it  is  true,  are  not  likely  to  beguile  many  minds 
in  a  country  like  this,  where  social  and  moral  problems  are  still  in  their 
natural  ascendant.  But  there  is  a  subtler  kind  of  materialism,  of  which 
the  dangers  are  real.  It  does  not,  indeed,  put  forth  the  bestial  sophism 
that  the  apex  of  philosophy  is  to  be  won  by  improved  microscopes  and 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  29 

voice  and  call  in  question  their  guidance.  There, 
in  truth,  stand,  as  they  point  to  them,  the  snowy 
summits  of  purity  and  goodness.  But  by  what 
path  would  they  guide  us  to  ascend  them?  Even 
if  their  own  strong  souls  may  climb  those  arid 
crags,  can  they  be  in  any  possible  sense  a  better 
way  than  that  by  which  millions  of  believers  in  God 
and  immortality  have  gone  up  on  high  ? 

Let  us  take  Mr.  Harrison's  doctrine  of  the  "  Post- 
humous Activities"  of  the  soul,  and  endeavor  to 
estimate  how  far  it  is  calculated  to  act  as  an  efficient 
motive  of  virtue  on  ordinarily  constituted,  well-in- 
tentioned men  and  women.  We  must  bear  in  mind 
that  it  is  formally  proposed  as  a  substitute  for  the 
old  belief  in  the  immortality  of  the  individual, — 
that  is  (according  to  the  Theist  creed),  in  the  im- 
mortality of  the  virtue  of  the  individual.  While  a 
Theist  believes  that,  having  lighted  that  sacred 
torch,  he  shall  be  permitted  to  bear  it  onward, 

new  batteries.  But  then  it  has  nothing  to  say  about  the  spiritual  life  of 
men.  It  fills  the  air  with  paeans  to  science,  but  it  always  means  physical, 
not  moral  science.  It  shirks  the  question  of  questions,— To  what  human 
end  is  this  knowledge  ?  How  shall  man  thereby  order  his  life  as  a  whole  ? 
Where  is  he  to  find  the  object  of  the  yearnings  of  his  spirit  ?  " 

I  am  not  concerned  to  defend  the  orthodox  ideal  of  heaven  against 
Mr.  Harrison's  strictures ;  but  I  cannot  help  entering  a  protest  against 
his  sneer  at  the  "  eternity  of  the  tabor"  as  "  so  gross,  so  sensual  a  creed." 
It  seems  to  me  it  errs  by  an  excessive  and  unreal  spirituality.  It  was, 
certainly,  not  a  "gross"  or  "sensual"  order  of  mind  which  deemed  the 
act  of  adoration  to  be  one  wherein  man  could  spend  an  eternity  of  ecstasy. 


30  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

burning  more  purely  and  brightly  forever,  the  Com- 
tist  thinks  he  must  lay  down  his  at  the  side  of  his 
grave,  though  other  men  may  ignite  their  own  from 
it,  and  so  carry  on  its  light  from  age  to  age. 

In  the  first  place,  I  must  remark  that,  like  the 
promise  on  which  such  stress  is  laid  in  Dr.  Bridge's 
G-eneral  View  of  Positivism,  that  attached  husbands 
and  wives  may  be  solemnly  interred  side  by  side, 
there  is  nothing  new  in  these  anticipations.  We 
have  always  known  that  we  might  be  buried  in  the 
same  vault  with  our  next  friend,  as  we  have  always 
known  that  our  actions  would  continue  to  bear  fruit 
after  our  departure.  We  entertained  the  first  hope 
(so  far  as  such  a  pitiful  matter  as  the  future  position 
of  our  deaf  and  blind  decaying  dust  deserves  to 
be  considered  a  hope),  and  we  were  aware  of  the 
responsibility, — plus  the  belief  that  we  ourselves 
should  enjoy  free  converse  with  the  spirit  of  our 
friend,  and  afford  to  smile  together  on  our  poor 
mouldering  garments  laid  up  side  by  side  in  the 
tomb, —  and  plus  the  belief  that  we  might  ourselves 
be  cognizant  of  our  posthumous  activities.  There 
is  nothing  in  the  fact  that  both  the  hope  and  the 
sense  of  responsibility  must  now  stand  by  them- 
selves for  what  they  are  worth,  to  give  them  (so  far 
as  I  can  see)  any  fresh  leverage  as  motives  of  con- 
duct. People  who  did  not  love  each  other  better 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  31 

while  they  expected  to  be  at  liberty  to  spend  eter- 
nity in  conscious  communion,  as  well  as  to  be  buried 
in  the  same  grave,  certainly  will  not  love  each  other 
better  when  their  future  prospects  are  limited  to  the 
family  vault.  And  people  who  have  not  regulated 
their  conduct  with  a  view  to  their  post-mortem  influ- 
ence while  they  anticipated  to  be  living  somewhere 
to  know,  or,  at  all  events,  to  be  obliged  to  think 
about  it,  are  very  little  likely  to  regulate  it  the 
better  when  they  are  convinced  that,  if  they  leave 
the  deluge  behind  them,  they  will  neither  know  nor 
care  one  iota.  As  to  the  good  man,  he  will,  under 
the  old  creed  and  under  the  new  alike  (and  neither 
more  nor  less,  so  far  as  I  can  perceive),  entertain  a 
solemn  sense  of  a  responsibility  to  do  all  the  good 
and  refrain  from  every  evil  in  his  power  during  his 
threescore  years  and  ten, —  not  first,  or  chiefly,  for 
the  sake  of  consequences  near  or  remote  to  himself 
or  other  people  in  this  world  or  another,  but  because 
goodness,  truth,  courage,  justice,  and  generosity  are 
good  in  themselves,  lovable  in  his  eyes  and  in  the 
eyes  of  God,  and  falsehood,  impurity,  cruelty,  and 
treachery  are  bad  and  despicable,  hateful  to  him  and 
to  his  Maker.  Afterward,  and  as  a  reinforcement 
of  his  choice  of  Scipio,  he  will  reflect  that  every 
good  act  entails  good  consequences  in  widening 
circles  of  loving-kindness,  honor,  and  honesty,  and 


32  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

every  bad  one  the  reverse ;  and  he  will  hope  in 
dying  to  reflect  that  the  sum  of  the  influence  he 
leaves  to  work  after  him  will  be  wholly  on  the  side 
of  truth,  justice,  and  love.  '  It  is  monstrous  for  Mr. 
Harrison  to  say  that  "  the  difference  between  our 
(Positivist)  faith  and  that  of  the  orthodox  is  this. 
We  look  to  the  permanence  of  the  activities  which 
give  others  happiness.  They  look  to  the  permanence 
of  the  consciousness  which  can  enjoy  happiness." 
Why  should  looking  to  the  permanence  of  conscious- 
ness and  happiness  make  a  man  care  less  for  the 
activities  "  which  give  others  happiness  "  ?  Does  A 
care  less  for  B's  welfare  because  he  would  like  to  be 
alive  to  see  it,  or  even  alive  at  the  antipodes  at  the 
same  time  ? 

Moralists  and  divines  of  all  ages  have  not  over- 
looked the  remoter  consequences  of  our  actions  in 
rehearsing  the  motives  in  favor  of  virtue.  But  it  is 
idle  to  attach  to  it,  as  applied  to  the  bulk  of  man- 
kind, more  practical  force  than  it  possesses.  In  the 
first  place,  when  such  an  observer  of  things  as  Shak- 
spere  could  say  that 

"  The  evil  which  men  do  lives  after  them, 
The  good  is  oft  interred  with  their  bones," 

it  is  open  to  us  all  to  doubt  whether  some  of  the 
very  noblest  achievements  of  human  virtue  have  left 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  33 

any  other  mark  than  on  the  virtuous  souls  them- 
selves, which  (as  we  Theists  think)  enjoy  even  now 
in  a  higher  existence  their  blessed  inward  conse- 
quences. The  martyrs  who  perished  unseen  and 
unknown  in  the  loathsome  dungeons  and  amid  the 
protracted  tortures  of  the  Inquisition  in  Spain, 
where  the  Reformation  they  would  have  established 
was  absolutely  extinguished  and  left  no  ray  of  light 
behind, —  could  these  men  cheer  themselves  under 
the  awful  strain  of  their  agonies  by  a  motive  of 
such  tenuity  as  the  prospect  of  their  "posthumous 
activities  "  ? 

But  admitting,  for  argument's  sake,  that  the 
motive  would  serve  always  to  support  the  heroic 
order  of  virtues,  would  it  likewise  aid  the  still 
more  important  ones  of  every-day  conduct?  His 
own  illustrations  ought  surely  to  have  made  Mr. 
Harrison  pause,  before  he  assumed  it.  He  speaks  of 
Newton  as  "  no  longer  destroying  his  great  name  by 
feeble  theology  or  querulous  pettiness,"  of  Shakspere 
as  "the  boon  companion  and  retired  playwright  of 
Stratford,"  of  Dante  as  the  "  querulous  refugee  from 
Florence,"  and  of  Milton  as  "the  blind  and  stern 
old  malignant  of  Bunhill  Fields."  Now  these  are 
his  chosen  exemplars  of  the  enormous  "  posthumous 
activity "  which  a  man  may  exert,  and  certainly 
nobody  now  living  can  hope  that  he  shall  ever  exer- 


34  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

else  one-tenth  as  much.  But  t heir  "  pettiness  "  and 
" querulousness "  and  "boon  companionship"  and 
"  sternness "  in  their  lifetimes  did  not  hinder,  or 
even  essentially  detract  from,  their  stupendous 
"posthumous  activity."  Why,  then,  should  lesser 
people  have  any  scruple  in  being  petty,  querulous, 
or  stern,  or  indulging  in  pot-companionship,  or  any 
other  faults  of  temper  or  habit,  on  account  of  their 
little  posthumous  activities,  whatever  they  may  hope 
that  these  may  prove  ? 

Obviously,  Mr.  Harrison  has  a  misgiving  as  to  the 
force  which  his  argument  can  be  expected  to  exert 
on  ordinary  mortals  or  for  the  daily  purposes  of  life. 
Though  he  says  that  the  truth  he  teaches  "is  not 
confined  to  the  great,"  and  adds  the  beautiful 
remark  that  "  in  some  infinitesimal  degree  the 
humblest  life  that  ever  turned  a  sod  sends  a  wave  — 
no,  more  than  a  wave,  a  life  —  through  the  ever- 
growing harmony  of  human  society,"  yet  even 
while  he  alleges  that  a  concern  for  such  posthumous 
activity  is  "no  doubt  now  in  England  the  great 
motive  of  virtue  and  energy,"  and  asks,  "Can  we 
conceive  a  more  potent  stimulus  to  daily  and  hourly 
striving  after  a  true  life  ? "  *  he  says  in  the  next 
page  that  "  it  would  be  an  endless  inquiry  to  trace 
the  means  whereby  this  sense  of  posthumous  partici- 
pation in  the  life  of  our  fellows  can  be  extended  to 

*Page*  838,  839. 


MAGNANIMOUS   AT 


the  mass,  as  it  certainly  affects  already  the  thought- 
ful and  refined."  Honestly,  he  admits  that  it  is 
"  impossible  it  should  become  universal  and  capable 
of  overcoming  selfishness"  "without  an  education, 
a  new  social  opinion  without  a  religion;  I  mean 
an  organized  religion,  not  a  vague  metaphysic." 
"  Make  it,"  he  cries,  with  almost  the  enthusiasm  of 
a  discoverer,  "at  once  the  basis  of  philosophy,  the 
standard  of  right  and  wrong,  and  the  centre  of  a 
religion,"  and  then  it  may  perhaps  be  achieved. 

But,  in  sober  truth,  what  "education"  or  "organ- 
ized religion  "  (i.e.,  of  course,  Comtism)  can  possibly 
transform  this  remote  anticipation  of  the  results  of 
our  actions  after  we  are  dead  into  a  practical  lever 
for  daily  duty  for  the  great  bulk  of  mankind?  It  is 
the  specialty  of  all  vice  to  be  selfishly  indifferent  to 
the  injurious  consequences  of  our  actions,  even  to 
their  immediate  and  visible  consequences,  to  those 
nearest  to  us.  Is  it  not  almost  ludicrous  to  think  of 
exhorting  the  drunkard  who  sees  his  wife  and  chil- 
dren starving  round  him  to-day,  or  the  ill-conducted 
girl  who  is  breaking  her  mother's  heart,  or  the  hard 
task-master  or  landlord  who  is  grinding  the  faces  of 
the  poor  to  fill  his  pocket,  to  refrain  from  their 
misdoings  on  account  of  the  evil  which  they  will 
cause  fifty  years  hence  to  people  unborn?  Or  let 
us  try  to  apply  the  principle  to  that  sound  mass 


36  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

of  every-day  English  virtue  which  is,  after  all,  the 
very  air  we  breathe, —  the  daily  dutifulness,  the 
purity,  the  truthfulness,  the  loving-kindness  of  our 
homes,  the  beautiful  patience  to  be  witnessed  beside 
a  thousand  sick-beds.  Were  we  to  ask  the  simple- 
hearted  men  and  meek  women  who  exemplify  these 
virtues  whether  they  ever  think  of  the  excellent 
"posthumous  activities"  which  they  will  exert  on 
their  surviving  acquaintances,  would  they  not  be 
utterly  bewildered?  The  clergyman  (or  let  us 
have  the  Comtist  philosopher)  who  will  go  through 
a  workhouse  ward,  or  round  the  cottages  of  a 
village,  and  offer  such  a  suggestion  as  a  topic  of 
encouragement,  would,  I  think,  effect  a  very  small 
measure  of  reformation.  Nor  do  I  think  it  is  neces- 
sarily a  low  type  of  mind  which  does  not  project 
itself  much  into  the  future,  whether  in  this  world 
or  the  next;  but  which  is  vividly  affected  by  the 
idea  of  a  present  righteous  law  claiming  immediate 
obedience,  and  a  present  adorable  God  watching 
whether  that  obedience  be  paid,  but  which  takes  in 
even  the  idea  of  immortality  more  as  adding  an 
infinite  dignity  to  moral  things  and  human  souls 
than  as  a  direct  motive  to  moral  action.  To  such 
a  person,  the  promise  of  "  posthumous  activities " 
is  as  remote  and  inoperative  a  principle  as  it  is 
possible  to  propose ;  and  he  can  scarcely  help  smil- 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  37 

ing  at  it,  as  he  does  at  the  observation  of  Pliny, 
that  the  "happiest  of  all  possible  anticipations  is 
the  certain  expectation  of  an  honorable  and  un- 
dying renown."  Posthumous  activity  affords  a  far 
nobler  motive  than  posthumous  fame ;  but  they 
both  appeal  to  sentiments  which  have  little  weight 
with  the  majority  of  minds,  and  no  weight  at  all 
with  a  great  number  not  undeserving  of  respect. 

The  truth  seems  to  be  that  the  leading  Comtists 
and  Agnostics  of  the  day  not  only  belong  to  an 
exceptional  type  of  human  nature,  little  touched 
by  grosser  impulses  and  highly  sensitive  to  the 
most  rarefied  order  of  influences,  but  are  unable 
to  descend  from  such  altitude,  and  realize  what 
ordinary  flesh-and-blood  men  and  women  are  made 
of.  As  Mr.  Darwin  unconsciously  betrayed  that 
he  had  never  once  had  occasion  to  repent  an  act 
of  unkindness,  when  he  theorized  about  repentance 
as  beginning  by  a  spontaneous  reversion  to  sym- 
pathy and  good-will  to  the  people  we  have  injured 
(in  bold  contradiction  to  Tacitus'  too  true  maxim, 
"Humani  generis  proprium  est  odisse  quern  laeseris  "), 
so  the  disciples  of  Comte  unwittingly  allow  us  to 
perceive  that  they  really  consider  an  exalted  and 
far-reaching  interest  in  the  welfare  of  our  kind  as 
the  sort  of  motive  which  is  already  "now  in  Eng- 
land the  great  motive  of  virtue  and  energy." 


38  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

Let  me  explain  myself.  I  do  not  think  there  is 
any  precept  too  high  to  be  accepted  by  the  mass 
of  mankind:  nay,  I  think  that  the  higher,  nobler, 
more  self-sacrificing  the  lesson,  the  warmer  response 
it  will  draw  forth  from  the  heart  of  humanity.  But 
this  is  the  moral  excellence  of  the  precept,  the  lofti- 
ness of  the  purity,  the  nobleness  of  the  generosity, 
the  courageousness  of  the  self-devotion,  which  are 
demanded.  It  is  quite  another  thing  to  choose  to 
present,  as  the  proper  motive  of  daily  virtue,  an 
idea  requiring  a  trained  intellect  to  take  it  in  and 
a  vivid  imagination  to  realize  it.  Every  argument 
for  virtue,  for  sobriety,  veracity,  and  so  on,  drawn 
from  considerations  of  future  consequences,  labors 
under  this  irremediable  defect :  that  it  appeals  least 
to  those  whom  it  is  most  necessary  to  influence. 
When  we  go  further,  and  place  our  fulcrum  of 
moral  leverage  in  the  period  after  the  death  of  the 
man  to  whom  we  appeal,  and  candidly  tell  him  that 
he  will  neither  enjoy  the  sight  of  any  good  he  may 
have  effected,  nor  suffer  from  the  spectacle  of  the 
results  of  his  wrong-doing,  we  have  reached  (as  it 
seems  to  me)  the  ne  plus  ultra  of  impracticability. 
Woe  to  human  virtue  when  its  advocates  are 
driven  to  attach  primary  importance  to  such  an 
argument,  and  dream  it  can  be  made  "the  centre 
of  a  religion  "  ! 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  39 

To  sum  up  this  subject.  To  a  man  of  high  calibre 
and  gifts,  the  consideration  of  "  posthumous  activi- 
ties "  may  act  as  a  spur  to  doing  great  actions,  but 
scarcely  as  a  motive  to  regulate  his  daily  life  and 
temper.  He  will,  perhaps,  under  its  influence  re- 
form the  prisons  of  Europe,  and  at  the  same  time 
break  his  wife's  heart ;  write  a  great  epic  poem, 
and  treat  his  daughters  like  slaves;  paint  splendid 
pictures,  and  remain  a  selfish  and  sordid  miser; 
fight  heroically  his  country's  battles,  and  lead  a  life 
of  persistent  adultery;  be  at  once  a  disinterested 
statesman  in  a  corrupt  age,  and  an  habitual  drunkard. 

As  to  the  mass  of  mankind,  who  are  endowed 
neither  with  any  superior  gifts  to  employ,  nor  vivid 
imagination  to  realize  the  results  of  their  actions 
hereafter,  an  appeal  to  them  to  act  virtuously  in 
consideration  of  their  posthumous  activities  would 
draw  forth  some  such  reply  as  this :  "  Our  conduct 
can,  at  most,  leave  after  our  deaths  only  very  small 
results  on  a  very  few  people  whom  we  shall  never 
know.  We  find  it  hard  enough  to  make  sacrifices 
for  those  whom  we  do  know  and  love,  and  whose 
happiness  or  misery  we  actually  witness.  It  is 
asking  too  much  of  us  that,  for  remote,  contingent, 
and  evanescent  benefits  to  our  survivors,  we  should 
undergo  any  pain  or  labor,  or  renounce  any  of  the 
pleasures  which  in  our  poor  short  lives  (so  soon 


40  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

to  end  forever  in  darkness)   may  fall  within   our 
grasp." 

Thus,  in  its  capacity  of  the  Friend  of  Virtue,  it 
seems  that  Atheism  begins  by  depriving  virtue  of 
some  of  the  strongest,  if  not  the  very  strongest, 
motives  by  which  it  has  hitherto  been  supported, 
and  offers  in  their  room,  as  the  best  substitute  for 
them  and  the  future  "  centre  of  religion,"  a  consid- 
eration of  Posthumous  Activities,  whose  force  is  of 
necessity  both  partial  as  to  the  virtues  it  inculcates, 
and  extremely  limited  as  to  the  persons  over  whom 
it  can  exercise  any  influence.  And  that  force,  such 
as  it  is,  appears  to  be  in  no  way  specially  connected 
with  the  Atheistic  view  of  human  destiny,  but 
belongs  to  every  moral  system  in  the  world. 

Finally,  as  if  to  complete  the  nullity  of  the  motive 
of  Posthumous  Activities,  there  comes  a  reflection 
which  must  take  erelong  a  prominent  place  in 
disquisitions  of  this  kind.  Comtists  talk  of  the 
"  immortality,"  the  "  eternity,"  of  a  dead  man's 
influence.  But,  if  each  individual  human  soul  is 
destined  to  be  extinguished  at  death,  then  there 
is  nothing  wherewith  man  is  concerned  which  is 
immortal  or  eternal.  Our  race  is  destined  irretriev- 
ably to  perish  as  a  race,  if  it  perish  piecemeal  with 
every  soul  which  drops  into  the  grave.  Miss  Mar- 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  41 

tineau's  wild  talk  about  "  the  special  destination  of 
my  race "  being  "  infinitely  nobler  than  the  highest 
proposed  under  a  scheme  of  divine  moral  govern- 
ment "  *  (an  assertion  in  itself  simply  absurd,  since 
the  believers  in  a  scheme  of  divine  government 
hold  that  whatever  is  noblest  is  by  the  hypothesis 
assuredly  our  destination),  is  rendered  doubly  pre- 
posterous when  we  bear  in  mind  what  science  teaches 
regarding  the  inevitable  lapse  of  this  planet  within  a 
limited  epoch  into  a  condition  of  uninhabitability. 
The  following  observations  are  made  on  this  subject 
in  a  little  jeu  tf  esprit  which  I  may  be  pardoned  for 
quoting.  It  assumes  to  be  an  extract  from  a  news- 
paper of  the  next  century,  and  the  men  of  that 
period  are  supposed  to  look  back  upon  the  doc- 
trine of  "Posthumous  Activities"  with  very  little 
respect : — 

It  is  needless  to  repeat  that  the  delusive  exhortations  of  some 
amiable  but  short-sighted  philosophers  of  the  last  century  to 
"labor  for  the  good  of  Humanity  in  future  generations"  (a 
motive  which  they  supposed  would  prove  a  substitute  for  the  old 
historic  religions)  have  been  once  and  for  all  answered  by  the 
grand  discovery  of  astronomers  that  our  planet  cannot  long  re- 
main fhe  habitation  of  man  (even  if  it  escape  any  sidereal  explo- 
sion), since  the  solar  heat  is  undergoing  such  rapid  exhaustion. 
When  the  day  comes,  as  come  it  must,  when  the  fruits  of  the 
earth  perish  one  by  one,  when  the  dead  and  silent  woods  petrify, 
and  all  the  races  of  animals  become  extinct,  when  the  icy  seas 

•Autobiography,  Vol.  II.,  p.  866. 


42  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

flow  no  longer,  and  the  pallid  sun  shines  dimly  over  the  frozen 
world,  locked,  like  the  moon,  in  eternal  frost  and  lifelessness, — 
what  in  that  day,  predicted  so  surely  by  science,  will  avail  all  the 
works  and  hopes  and  martyrdoms  of  man?  All  the  stores  of 
knowledge  which  we  shall  have  accumulated  will  be  forever  lost. 
Our  discoveries,  whereby  we  have  become  the  lords  of  creation 
and  wielded  the  great  forces  of  Nature,  will  be  useless  and  for- 
gotten. The  virtues  which  have  been  perfected,  the  genius  which 
has  glorified,  the  love  which  has  blessed  the  human  race,  will  all 
perish  along  with  it.  Our  libraries  of  books,  our  galleries  of 
pictures,  our  fleets,  our  railroads,  our  vast  and  busy  cities,  will  be 
desolate  and  useless  forever-more.  No  intelligent  eye  will  ever 
behold  them,  and  no  eye  in  the  universe  will  know  or  remember 
that  there  ever  existed  such  a  being  as  man.  This  is  what 
SCIENCE  teaches  us  unerringly  to  expect,  and  in  view  of  it  who 
shall  talk  to  us  of  "laboring  for  the  sake  of  Humanity"  ?  The 
enthusiasm  which  could  work  disinterestedly  for  a  Progress  des- 
tined inevitably  to  end  in  an  eternal  Glacial  Period  must  be 
recognized  as  a  dream,  wherein  no  man  in  a  scientific  age  can 
long  indulge.* 

The  second  counsel  of  perfection  of  the  Agnostic 
teachers  is,  as  above  said,  "  to  welcome  the  conclu- 
sions of  Atheism,  and  especially  the  doctrine  of 
annihilation  of  consciousness  at  death,  not  merely  as 
truth,  but  as  the  latest  gospel  of  good  tidings." 

This  lesson,  though  repeated  more  or  less  by 
nearly  all  Agnostic  and  Comtist  writers,  has  been 
perhaps  most  prominently  brought  to  the  front  in 
the  Life  of  Harriet  Martineau.  I  shall  take  her 
observations  and  example  as  the  text  for  the  remarks 

*Aye  of  Science,  p.  49. 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  43 

I  wish  to  offer  upon  it,  as  I  have  done  the  papers 
of  Mr.  Frederick  Harrison  for  those  just  made  on  the 
doctrine  of  Posthumous  Activities.  These  are  some 
of  her  utterances  which  touch  on  the  matter  :  — 

I  soon  found  myself  quite  outside  of  my  old  world  of  thought 
and  speculation,  under  a  new  heaven  and  a  new  earth,  disem- 
barrassed of  a  load  of  selfish  cares  and  troubles.  .  .  .  Hence  it  fol- 
lowed that  the  conceptions  of  a  God  with  any  human  attributes 
whatever,  of  a  principle  or  practice  of  design,  of  an  administration 
of  the  affairs  of  the  world  by  the  principles  of  human  morals,  must 
be  mere  visions,  necessary  and  useful  in  their  day,  but  not  philo- 
sophically or  permanently  true.  .  .  .  The  reality  that  philosophy 
founded  upon  science  is  the  one  thing  needful,  the  source  and 
the  vital  principle  of  all  morality  and  all  peace  to  individuals  and 
good-will  among  men,  had  become  the  crown  of  my  experience 
and  the  joy  of  my  life.  .  .  .  My  comrade  (Mr.  Atkinson)  and  I 
were  both  pioneers  of  truth.  We  both  care  for  our  kind,  and 
we  could  not  see  them  suffering  as  we  had  suffered  without  im- 
parting to  them  our  consolation  and  our  joy.  Having  found, 
as  my  friend  said,  a  spring  in  the  desert,  should  we  see  the  mul- 
titude wandering  in  desolation,  and  not  show  them  our  refresh- 
ment ?  .  .  .  Then  (in  younger  days)  I  believed  in  a  Protector,  who 
ordered  my  work  and  would  sustain  me  under  it ;  and,  however 
I  may  now  despise  that  sort  of  support,  I  had  it  then,  and  have 
none  of  that  sort  now.  I  have  all  that  I  want,  .  .  .  and  I  would 
not  exchange  my  present  views,  imperfect  and  doubtful  as  they 
are, —  I  had  better  say  I  would  not  exchange  my  freedom  from 
old  superstition, — if  I  were  to  be  burned  at  the  s  ake  next  month, 
for  all  the  peace  and  quiet  of  Orthodoxy.  Nor  would  I  for  my 
exemption  give  up  the  blessing  of  the  power  of  appeal  to  thought- 
ful minds.  .  .  .  When  I  experienced  the  still  new  joy  of  feeling 
myself  to  be  a  portion  of  the  universe,  resting  on  the  security 


44  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

of  its  everlasting  laws,  certain  that  its  Cause  was  wholly  out  of 
the  sphere  of  human  attributes,  and  that  the  special  destiny  of 
my  race  is  infinitely  nobler  than  the  highest  proposed  under  a 
scheme  of  "divine  moral  government,"  how  could  it  matter  to 
me  that  the  adherents  of  a  decaying  mythology  were  still  cling- 
ing to  their  Man-God  ?  .  .  .  Under  this  close  experience  (of  ill- 
ness), I  find  death  in  prospect  the  simplest  thing  in  the  world, 
—  a  thing  not  to  be  feared  or  regretted  or  to  get  excited  about 
in  any  way.  I  attribute  this  very  much  to  the  nature  of  my 
views  of  death.  .  .  .  Now,  the  release  is  an  inexpressible  comfort. 
I  see  that  the  dying  naturally  and  regularly,  unless  disturbed, 
desire  and  sink  into  death  as  into  sleep.  ...  I  feel  no  solicitude 
about  a  parting  which  will  bring  no  pain.  .  .  .  Under  the  eternal 
laws  of  the  universe  I  came  into  being,  and  under  them  I  have 
lived  a  life  so  full  that  its  fulness  is  equivalent  to  length:  thus 
there  is  much  in  my  life  that  I  am  glad  to  have  enjoyed,  and 
much  that  generates  a  mood  of  contentment  at  its  close.  Besides 
that,  I  never  dream  of  wishing  that  anything  were  otherwise 
than  as  it  is ;  and  I  am  frankly  satisfied  to  have  done  with  life. 
I  have  had  a  noble  share  of  it,  and  I  desire  no  more.  I  neither 
wish  to  live  longer  here  nor  to  find  life  again  elsewhere.  It  seems 
to  me  simply  absurd  to  expect  it.* 

It  is  no  part  of  the  purpose  of  this  article  to 
discuss  the  truth  of  the  doctrine  that  there  is  no 
God,  and  that  death  terminates  human  conscious- 
ness. Nor  yet  do  I  question  whether  a  high  sense  of 
loyalty  to  what  is  understood  to  be  truth  may  not 
make  it  appear  to  any  one  holding  such  doctrines 
that  he  is  under  the  obligation  to  publish  them 

*  Autobiography,  pp.  333, 438. 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  45 

frankly  to  the  world.  Many  a  man  who  is  an 
Atheist  as  regards  God  holds  (what  many  believers 
in  Him  lack)  a  noble  faith  in  Truth  as  Truth,  a  firm 
conviction  that  nothing  can  be  better  than  Truth, 
and  that,  as  Carlyle  said,  "  To  nothing  but  error 
can  any  truth  be  dangerous."  It  is  not,  then,  the 
holding  of  such  views  as  those  above  quoted,  nor  yet 
their  frank  publication  and  defence,  wherewith  we 
are  now  concerned ;  but  with  the  tone  of  exultation 
with  which  they  are  announced,  the  disregard  and 
contempt  which  are  manifested  for  the  dearest 
hopes,  the  purest  aspirations,  of  the  great  mass  of 
mankind. 

Magnanimity  has  two  phases.  We  may  'be  mag- 
nanimous on  our  own  account, —  brave,  calm,  and 
self-reliant  in  the  face  of  things  which  appall  feebler 
souls.  Of  this  sort  of  personal  magnanimity,  this 
remarkable  woman  has  given  a  very  fine  example. 
Here  are  the  words  she  wrote  twenty  years  after 
the  foregoing  pages,  in  her  last  letter  to  her  friend : 

I  cannot  think  of  any  future  as  at  all  probable  except  the 
annihilation  from  which  some  people  recoil  with  so  much  horror. 
.  .  .  For  my  part,  I  have  no  objection  to  such  an  extinction.  I 
well  remember  the  passion  wherewith  W.  E.  Forster  said  to  me, 
"I  had  rather  be  damned  than  annihilated."  ...  I  have  no  wish 
for  any  further  experience,  nor  have  I  any  fear  of  it.*  ... 

*  Harriet  Martineau's  last  letter  to  Mr.  Atkinson,  Ambleside,  May  19, 
1876,  Autobiography,  Vol.  HI.,  p.  463. 


46  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

These  words  have  in  them  a  calmness,  simplicity, 
and  courage  which  demand  our  honor,  written  as 
they  were  by  an  aged  woman  (as  she  herself  de- 
scribes them  a  few  lines  further)  "  under  the  clear 
knowledge  of  death  being  so  near  at  hand."  The 
old  vulgar  theory,  so  frequently  harped  upon  in  the 
last  generation,  that  the  right  place  to  judge  a  man's 
religious  views  is  his  death-bed,  and  that,  while 
orthodox  believers  alone  can  die  bravely,  sceptics 
must  needs  expire  in  anguish  and  alarm,  with  "a 
certain  fearful  looking-for  of  judgment,"  has  been 
thoroughly  exploded  by  the  now  numberless  in- 
stances of  perfect  courage  exhibited  by  dying  men 
and  women  who  had  long  before  abandoned  the 
hopes  of  a  happy  futurity  which  revealed  or  natural 
religion  has  to  offer.  Harriet  Martineau's  serene 
self-resignation  into  eternal  nothingness  ought,  if 
any  further  evidence  were  wanting,  to  suffice  to  set 
the  matter  finally  at  rest ;  and  it  may  be  cited  very 
properly  by  disbelievers  in  immortality,  as  exhibit- 
ing what  they  deem  to  be  the  fitting  and  dignified 
tone  of  a  philosophical  mind  drawing  near  to  the 
horizon  beneath  which  it  will  presently  disappear 
forever.  No  one  can  help  respecting  courage,  under 
whatever  form  or  circumstances  it  is  manifested; 
and,  if  a  man  think  that  he  is  on  the  verge  of  anni- 
hilation, it  is  truly  dignified  and  praiseworthy  to 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  47 

approach  it  with  unflinching  eye  and  unblenched 
cheek.  This  is  so  far  as  the  individual  is  concerned. 
But  is  there  not  another  and  larger  side  of  the  ques- 
tion, which  the  very  noblest  man  ought  to  feel  as 
awful  and  heart-rending, —  nay,  must  feel  to  be  so, 
in  proportion  to  his  nobleness  and  his  power  to 
extend  his  view  beyond  his  own  petty  personality  ? 
True  magnanimity,  it  seems  to  me,  must  look  far 
outside  of  a  man's  own  lot,  of  his  past  share  of  life's 
feast,  and  his  readiness  now  to  rise  from  it  satisfied, 
and  must  take  a  wide  survey  of  the  lives  (so  far 
as  they  can  be  known  or  guessed)  of  all  other  men, 
—  of  the  poverty-stricken,  the  savage,  the  ignorant, 
the  diseased,  the  enslaved,  the  sin-degraded, —  and 
attain  the  conclusion  that  for  these  also,  as  well  as 
for  himself,  life  on  earth  has  been  sufficient  good, 
and  none  other  need  be  asked  or  desired  before  he 
can  complacently  speak  of  the  joy  of  abandoning 
faith  in  God  and  immortality.  "  I  have  had  a  noble 
share  of  life,  and  I  desire  no  more,"  is  an  expression 
of  personal  sentiment  which  may  or  may  not  be 
right  and  fitting  on  the  assumed  hypothesis.  But 
to  join  to  such  expression  of  individual  contentment 
no  word  of  regret  for  the  closing  in  of  all  hope  to 
the  suffering  millions  of  our  race  who  have  not  had 
"  noble  "  shares  of  life,  and  who  do,  with  yearning 
hunger,  desire  more  than  has  ever  fallen  to  their  lot, 


48  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

—  this  is,  as  it  seems  to  me,  the  reverse  of  magna- 
nimity.    This  is  littleness  and  selfishness  almost  as 
bad  as  that  of  the  bigots  whom  these  Atheists  abhor, 
who  rejoice  to  expect  heaven  for  themselves,  while 
leaving  thousands  of  their  brethren  to  perdition.     It 
might  be  pardonable  in  one  brought  up  to  believe 
in  hell,  and  who  hurriedly  leaped  to  the  doctrine  of 
annihilation  from  that  intolerable  yoke,  and  cried, 
"  Let  us  all  perish  together  rather  than  that  hideous 
doom  overtake  a  single  creature ! "     Such  a  choice 
would  be  generous  and  worthy.     But  when  a  woman 
who    probably   never,   at    any   period    of    her   life, 
believed  in  the  eternal  perdition  of  a  soul,  proclaims 
herself  enraptured  at   the  joy  of  finding   out   that 
there   is  neither  a  God  to   protect  the  weak,  nor, 
finally,  any  holiness  or  happiness  beyond  the  grave, 

—  then,  I  repeat,  this  is  not  magnanimity,  but  gigan- 
tic selfishness. 

Let  us  think  a  little  what  it  would  signify  to 
mankind  to  give  up  God  and  heaven, —  that  is,  the 
belief  in  God  and  heaven;  for — God  be  praised!  — 
it  rests  with  no  philosophic  school  to  put  out  the 
sun  or  prevent  the  morning  from  breaking,  but  only 
to  blind  our  eyes  to  them. 

Dr.  James  Martineau  once  made  in  a  sermon  the 
startling  remark  that,  "if  it  could  be  known  that 
God  was  dead,  the  news  would  cause  but  little 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  49 

excitement  in  the  streets  of  Berlin  or  Paris."  The 
observation  was  doubtless  true ;  for,  of  direct  thought 
of  God,  the  streets  of  great  cities  are  probably  the 
emptiest  of  any  places  wherein  mortals  may  be 
found.  But  there  is  an  enormous  share  of  human 
ideas  and  feelings  not  directly  or  consciously  turned 
toward  God,  yet  nevertheless  colored  by  the  belief 
that  such  a  Being  exists.  Perhaps  it  would  be  more 
proper  to  say  that  in  Christendom  every  idea  and 
every  feeling  have  imperceptibly  been  built  up  on 
the  theory  that  there  is  a  God.  We  see  everything 
with  Him  for  a  background.  Inanimate  nature  and 
the  lower  animals,  human  history  and  society,  poetry, 
literature,  science,  and  art, —  every  one  of  them  has 
its  religious  aspect,  which  can  only  be  excluded  by 
a  mental  tour  deforce.  Take  inanimate  nature,  for 
example, —  the  region  where  it  seems  easiest  to 
sever  the  links  of  habitual  thought,  and  which  the 
doctrine  of  Evolution  (according  to  some  of  its 
teachers)  has  already  withdrawn  from  the  domain 
of  a  Creative  Power.  We  all  love  this  nature ;  and 
our  hearts  are  moved  to  their  depths  by  sympathy 
with  it  when  we  gaze  round  of  a  summer  morning 
upon  the  woods  and  hills  and  waters,  or,  later  in 
the  year,  upon  the  "happy  autumn  fields"  of  ripened 
corn,  or,  on  a  winter's  night,  up  into  the  solemn 
host  of  stars.  But  is  it  merely  the  glittering 


50  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

"patines  of  bright  gold,"  or  fields  of  yellow  wheat, 
or  the  block  of  wood  and  rock  which  form  the  forest 
or  the  mountain,  which  awaken  in  us  such  myste- 
rious emotion  ?  Are  we  not  dimly  worshipping  the 
soul  of  nature  through  earth  and  sky, —  the  spirit 
wherewith  our  spirits  are  in  ineffable  harmony,  and 
of  which  all  the  loveliness  we  behold  is  but  the 
shadow  ? 

Let  some  Agnostic  disenchanter  come  to  us  at 
such  an  hour  and  tell  us  that,  though  it  takes  a 
man  of  genius  to  depict  worthily  on  canvas  a  corner 
of  this  wide  field  of  loveliness,  yet  that  the  whole 
great  original  had  no  Painter,  no  Designer ;  that  the 
mountains  had  no  Architect,  the  well-balanced  stars 
no  supreme  Geometer,  but  that  it  all  came  about  as 
we  behold  it  through  the  action  of  forces,  unguided 
by  any  mind,  undirected  by  any  Will, —  and  Avliat 
revulsion  shall  we  not  experience?  Shall  we  not 
feel  like  a  man  enamoured  of  a  beautiful  woman 
whom  he  has  believed  to  be  good  and  wise  and 
tender,  but,  when  he  comes  at  last  to  look  close  into 
her  icice,  he  finds  her  to  be  a  soulless  idiot,  from 
whcse  stony  and  meaningless  gaze  he  turns  shudder- 
ing away? 

Science,  again,  is  but  a  mere  heap  of  facts,  not 
a  golden  chain  of  truths,  if  we  refuse  to  link  it .  to 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  51 

the  throne  of  God.*  In  every  department  of  human 
thought,  in  short,  something  —  and  that  something 
the  most  beautiful  in  it — must  be  lost,  some  sacred 
spell  must  be  broken,  if  we  are  to  think  of  it  as 
divested  from  the  deeper  sense  which  religion  has 
(all  unconsciously  to  ourselves)  given  to  it, —  the 
thread  of  purpose  running  through ;  the  understood 
promise  of  justice;  the  sympathy  of  an  unseen, 
all-beholding  Spectator. 

In  the  same  way,  all  human  relationships  will  be 
stripped  of  the  majestic  mantle  under  which  they 
have  been  sheltered.  The  idea  of  the  common 
Fatherhood  of  God,  which  Paganism  in  its  best  days 
had  begun  to  teach,  and  which  Christ's  lessons  have 
made  the  familiar  thought  of  every  European  child, 
has  put  a  meaning  into  the  phrase  of  human  brother- 
hood, which  it  is  much  to  be  doubted  if  the  warmest 
"  Enthusiasts  of  Humanity "  would,  without  such 
preliminary  training,  have  been  able  to  give  to  it. 
The  idea  (poorly  as  it  has  been  hitherto  recognized) 
that  the  most  degraded  of  mankind,  those  from 
whom  we  naturally  turn  in  disgust,  have  yet  the 

*  I  have  heard  of  two  very  great  living  philosophers  who  thought  they 
had  pretty  nearly  got  rid  of  Final  Causes,  but  who,  in  talking  together, 
found  it  hard  to  avoid  assuming  their  existence.  One  of  them,  in  fact, 
in  detailing  his  own  observations  and  discoveries  concerning  animals  and 
plants,  used  so  often  terms  implying  that  there  was  a,  purpose  visible  in 


52  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

same  Creator  and  the  same  Judge  as  ourselves,  has, 
beyond  question,  an  indirect  influence  of  no  small 
force  over  all  our  sentiments  concerning  them.  The 
same  reflection  has  even  at  last  begun  to  exercise 
a  perceptible  influence  over  our  conduct  to  the 
brutes.  Christians  and  Theists  of  every  shade  may 
be  found  impressed  with  the  sense  that  religion 
demands  the  humane  treatment  of  all  sentient  creat- 
ures; and  this,  whether  they  take  the  view  of 
Cardinal  Manning,  that,  "  if  I  owe  no  moral  duties 
to  the  lower  animals,  I  owe  all  the  moral  duties  that 
are  conceivable  to  the  Creator  of  those  animals, — 
humanity,  mercy,  and  care  for  them,"  or  take  the 
simple  Theist  stand-point,  that,  as  we  love  Him,  so 
we  naturally  look  with  sympathy  and  tenderness 
on  everything  He  has  made.  Of  course,  this  motive 
of  humanity  to  brutes  disappears  with  the  belief  in 
God;  and,  accordingly,  we  find,  with  quite  logical 
fitness,  that,  while  the  opposition  to  brute  torture  is 
maintained  by  men  of  every  varied  shade  of  religion, 
the  majority  of  the  chief  vivisectors  of  Europe  are 
professed  Materialists.  Vivisection  is  the  logical 
outcome  of  Atheism  as  regards  the  brutes;  and 
M.  Paul  Bert  and  Carl  Vogt  are  only  the  most 
candid  examples  of  men  who  have  carried  it  out. 

natural  arrangements  that  his  friend  stopped  him,  and  said,  "  Mr , 

you  are  getting  strangely  teleological! " 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  58 

But  it  is  in  the  region  of  the  personal  virtues  — 
purity,  truth,  temperance,  contentment — that  the 
loss  of  the  belief  in  God  will  be  most  disastrous. 
I  am  far  from  maintaining  that,  putting  religion 
wholly  out  of  sight,  there  are  not  motives  of  a 
purely  ethical  kind  left  which  ought  to  make  men 
practise  the  highest  inward  virtue.  But  I  think  it 
needs  only  a  slight  knowledge  of  human  nature  to 
perceive  that  the  shutting  up  of  the  window  of  the 
soul,  through  which  an  awful  and  most  holy  Spec- 
tator has  hitherto  been  believed  to  gaze  into  all  its 
secrets,  must  leave  a  great  deal  in  darkness  which 
has  been  till  now  illumined  with  a  sin-exposing  light. 
It  takes  much  for  a  man  to  say,  like  the  author  of 
In  Memoriam, — 

"  The  dead  shall  look  me  through  and  through." 

The  idea  of  any  eye  perceiving  all  that  is  going  on 
in  the  recesses  of  the  mind, —  the  double  motives, 
the  unfaithfulnesses,  the  vanities,  the  memories  of 
old  shameful  errors, —  this  is  hard  enough.  But  the 
belief  that  such  introspection  is  always  taking  place, 
and  by  the  Holiest  of  all  beings,  is  undoubtedly  a 
sort  of  purification  such  as  no  mere  solitary  process 
of  self-examination  can  resemble.  Even  a  warm 
human  friendship  in  youth  brings  with  it  always 
a  burst  of  self-knowledge.  We  see  ourselves  quite 


54  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

freshly  in  our  friend's  view  of  us.  But  a  thousand 
times  greater  inevitably  is  the  self-revelation  which 
comes  with  the  realized  presence  of  God  in  the 
soul,  the  flood  of  sunshine  which  discloses  all  the 
motes  which  fill  the  atmosphere  of  our  thoughts. 
Now,  though  it  is  only  spiritually-minded  men 
who  know  this  experience  in  its  full  intensity,  yet 
every  man  who  believes  in  God  has  gleams  of  it  at 
intervals  through  life  which  are  never  afterward 
quite  forgotten.  But,  more  (and  this  is  a  point 
which  concerns  the  whole  Theistic  moral  argument 
most  importantly),  the  supreme  experience  of  spir- 
itual men  is  filtered  down  through  all  grades  of 
minds  by  books  and  intercourse.  The  lofty  stand- 
ard of  purity  which  has  been  revealed  to  them 
is  partially  exhibited  by  their  words  and  example, 
and  forms  a  kind  of  high-water  mark  for  lesser 
souls.  It  is  an  immense  gain,  even  to  very  poor 
sinners,  that  there  should  be  a  few  rich  saints ;  and 
every  man  who  has  attained  a  lofty  conception  of 
holiness  helps  to  make  all  the  world  around  him 
conscious  of  its  unholiness.  He  is  a  mirror  in  a 
dark  place :  the  ray  of  light  which  has  fallen  on 
him  dispels  somewhat  of  the  gloom  around. 

Thus,  if  the  belief  in  God  be  lost  to  humanity,  we 
shall  lose  not  only  the  direct,  the  incalculable  effects 
on  individual  souls  of  the  belief  in  a  divine  Searcher 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  55 

of  Hearts,  but  also  the  indirect  and  universal  uplift- 
ing influence  on  society  of  the  presence  of  men  who 
have  experienced  such  effects,  and  formed  their 
moral  standard  accordingly.  Is  it  too  much  to 
augur  that  the  result  will  be  a  depreciation  of  the 
common  ideal  standard,  and  a  consequently  still 
further  depression  of  the  practical  level  of  personal 
virtue  ? 

What  is  left,  when  religion  is  gone,  to  give  to  the 
personal  virtues  of  purity  (of  thought  as  well  as  of 
act),  of  truth,  temperance,  and  contentment,  the 
high  status  they  ought  to  hold?  These  virtues,  in 
the  history  of  the  moral  development  of  mankind, 
are  always  the  last  to  be  recognized.  In  the  earlier 
ages  of  morality,  nobody  asks  for  more  than  negative 
merits, —  not  to  murder  or  rob  or  deal  treacherously. 
Then  comes  the  great  step,  when  the  rabbinical  pre- 
cept, "Thou  shalt  not  do  to  another  what  thou 
wouldest  not  he  should  do  to  thee,"  is  exchanged  for 
the  positive  Christian  law,  Do  to  another  what  thou 
wouldest  he  should  do  to  thee.  But  only  very 
slowly,  above  and  beyond  all  social  duties,  the  prin- 
ciple, "  Be  perfect,  as  thy  Father  in  heaven  is  per- 
fect," has  dawned  on  mankind  as  the  aim  of  life ; 
and  how  little  it  is  yet  the  practical  rule  of  conduct 
there  is  no  need  to  tell.  Let  us  but  let  slip  our  faith 
in  the  perfect  Father  in  heaven,  and  will  it  not  sink 


56  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

again  by  degrees  into  oblivion?  We  shall  hear  a 
great  deal,  doubtless  (for  a  time,  at  all  events),  of 
the  duty  of  "laboring  for  the  cause  of  humanity," 
and  be  encouraged  by  promises  of  "posthumous 
activity."  But  where  are  the  motives  for  personal 
and  secret  virtue  to  come  from, —  that  inward  virtue 
without  which  even  warm  social  benevolence  soon 
becomes  tainted  ?  It  must,  it  would  seem,  fall  more 
and  more  into  the  background.  There  is,  theoreti- 
cally, no  more  reason  for  placing  it  forward  :  there  is 
no  more  any  "  end  of  creation  "  in  contemplation,  to 
which  the  virtue  of  each  soul,  to  be  wrought  out  by 
its  own  struggles,  must  contribute  its  quotum.  The 
intrinsic  moral  character  of  each  soul  will  no  longer 
be  deemed  the  concern  of  any  being  except  the 
man  himself,  but  only  what  each  is  able  to  achieve  in 
the  way  of  contributing  to  the  welfare  of  other  people. 
While  the  lesson  of  the  higher  ethics  has  been,  "  It 
is  more  important  to  be  good  than  to  do  good,"  that 
of  the  new  ethics  must  inevitably  be,  "  It  is  very 
important  what  you  do :  it  is  of  the  smallest  possible 
consequence  what  you  are  except  in  so  far  as  your 
neighbors  may  know  it  and  be  affected  thereby." 

In  another  way,  also,  I  think  morality  would  be 
affected  enormously,  though  still  indirectly,  by  the 
downfall  of  religion.  Many  of  my  readers  will 
recall  a  very  able  article  on  Atheism  in  the  National 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  57 

Review  for  January,  1856,  by  Mr.  R.  H.  Hutton,  in 
which  it  was  maintained  that  "  Atheism  has  no  lan- 
guage by  which  it  can  express  the  infinite  nature 
of  moral  distinctions.  ...  It  is  not,  as  has  been 
falsely  said,  that  right  and  wrong  take  their  dis- 
tinction from  measures  of  duration,  but  that  faith  in 
infinite  personal  life,  and  in  communion  with  or 
separate  from  infinite  good,  is  the  only  articulate 
utterance  which  our  conscience  can  find  for  its 
sense  of  the  absolutely  boundless  significance  it  sees 
in  every  moral  choice."  Take  away  this  expression 
of  the  infinite  nature  of  moral  distinctions,  and  the 
sense  of  it  will  very  rapidly  dwindle  away. 

And,  after  all,  can  it  be  said  in  the  same  sense, 
under  an  Atheistic  as  under  a  Theistic  creed,  that 
moral  distinctions  are  " infinitely"  significant?  Is 
there  any  "  infinite  "  left  for  us  to  talk  about,  when 
we  have  abolished  God  and  immortality?  Some 
few  thousands  of  years  ago,  on  the  Atheistic 
hypothesis,  when  man  was  just  emerging  from 
apehood,  there  was  no  Being  anywhere  who  distin- 
guished right  from  wrong ;  *  and  some  few  thousand 
years  to  come,  when  the  final  glacial  period  sets  in, 

*  Or  at  least  our  right  from  wrong  ;  for,  on  Mr.  Darwin's  showing, 
there  may,  it  seems,  be  a  different  right  and  wrong  for  creatures  differ- 
ently constituted  in  other  worlds,  whose  interests,  being  different,  will 
cause  different "  sets  "  of  their  brains  toward  the  lines  of  action  useful  to 
their  tribes  accordingly. 


58  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

there  will  be  nobody  left  to  know  anything  about 
it.  There  is  no  Being  now  in  whom  righteousness 
is  impersonated,  nor  any  world  to  come  wherein 
the  injustices  of  this  will  be  rectified.  From  the 
eternal  and  immutable  law  of  the  universe,  the 

typairra   KdoQatii  Oe£n>  vdfttfM,   which     Sophocles    held    it   tO 

be,  the  moral  law  has  sunk  to  a  mere  "  Rule  of 
Thumb,"  whereby  certain  ephemeral  creatures  on 
our  small  planet  find  it  most  beneficial,  on  the  whole, 
to  regulate  their  behavior.  Is  it  in  the  nature  of 
things  to  pay  to  such  a  rule  the  sort  of  obedience 
and  reverence  we  have  paid  to  the  divine  law? 
And  if,  with  the  very  highest  sanctions  which  can 
be  conceived,  that  law  has  but  too  often  failed  to 
secure  our  obedience  against  the  temptations  of  self- 
ishness and  passion,  does  anybody  expect  that,  when 
it  is  divested  of  all  those  sanctions,  it  will  prevail 
even  so  far  as  it  has  done  hitherto  ? 

These  are  some  of  the  indirect  ways  in  which 
mankind  must  lose  beauty  and  truth  and  goodness, 
as  it  loses  faith  in  God  and  immortality.  But  the 
direct  losses  inevitably  to  follow  are,  if  possible, 
graver  still. 

The  course  of  the  moral  life,  after  it  has  been  com- 
menced in  earnest,  probably  passes  through  the  same 
two  great  phases  in  almost  every  man  who  lives  long 
enough.  At  first,  duty  is  a  hard  effort  and  all  effort. 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  59 

A  strong  hand  seems  to  be  laid  on  the  man,  urging 
him  up  a  toilsome  road.  Every  evil  tendency  of  his 
nature  has  to  be  separately  fought  with  and  trampled 
down,  every  act  of  self-sacrifice  for  others  to  be  per- 
formed with  exertion  of  his  will.  The  man  labors 
heroically  under  his  stern  sense  of  duty,  taking  con- 
solation in  it  as  duty,  but  still  looking  rather  to 
fulfil  his  obligation  than  desirous  that  the  end  of 
each  task  should  be  accomplished.  If  he  die  at  this 
stage,  it  is  in  some  sense  a  release.  He  has  dis- 
charged his  duty  as  a  soldier,  and  is  glad  to  lay  down 
his  arms.  If  he  be  a  religious  man,  he  hopes  to  hear 
it  said  to  him,  "Well  done,  good  and  faithful  ser- 
vant !  enter  thou  into  the  joy  of  thy  Lord." 

But  if  a  man  live  many  years,  striving  in  earnest, 
however  failingly,  to  do  his  duty,  there  comes  by 
degrees  a  change  in  his  condition.  Old  temptations 
lie  down;  and,  if  no  new  ones  arise  to  give  him 
trouble,  the  friction  of  the  inner  life  diminishes  so 
sensibly  that  he  is  apt  to  be  alarmed  lest  he  be  grow- 
ing indifferent.  As  to  his  positive  duties,  those 
which  he  has  been  fulfilling  merely  because  he  felt 
it  laid  upon  him  to  undertake  them,  by  degrees  they 
acquire  interest  for  him  for  their  own  sake.  He  is 
intensely  anxious  for  the  success  of  his  labors,  and 
no  longer  measures  his  efforts  by  what  may  be  con- 
sidered his  moral  obligations.  He  wants  such  end 


60  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

such  aged  or  suffering  persons  to  be  relieved,  such 
sinners  to  be  reclaimed,  such  children  trained  to 
virtue,  such  truths  published,  such  wrongs  redressed, 
such  useful  laws  or  reforms  or  discoveries  intro- 
duced. There  is  no  need  now  for  him  to  spur  him- 
self by  reflections  that  it  is  his  duty  to  work  for 
these  ends:  the  difficulty  with  him  now  lies  to 
moderate  his  work  with  a  view  to  the  preservation 
of  health  and  strength.  It  would  be  cruelty  to  tell 
him  his  task  has  been  honorably  fulfilled,  though  the 
object  of  it  has  failed.  He  would  cry,  "  Let  me  be 
accounted  a  faithless  servant,  but  let  the  work  be 
accomplished  by  another,  and  I  shall  be  content." 
If  he  die  now,  he  takes  very  little  comfort  from 
thinking  he  has  discharged  his  duty.  The  work  is 
not  finished,  and  will  miss  his  hand.  He  says,  as 
Theodore  Parker  said  to  me  on  his  death-bed:  "I 
am  not  afraid  to  die,  but  I  wish  I  might  carry  on 
my  work.  I  have  only  half  used  the  powers  God 
gave  me." 

Now,  in  all  this  history  of  the  moral  life,  it 
appears  that  no  ostensible  difference  need  exist 
between  the  sentiments  of  an  Atheist  and  a  Theist, 
provided  we  can  carry  the  Atheist  safely  to  the  second 
stage  of  progress.  Once  there,  it  is  evident  that  no 
change  in  his  opinions  about  God  or  loss  of  hope  of 
heaven  will  practically  affect  his  conduct.  The 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  61 

habits  of  self-control  whereby  he  has  ruled  his  pas- 
sions will  not  be  lost,  the  interest  he  has  taken  in 
unselfish  objects  will  not  dwindle.  He  will  go  on  to 
the  end,  laboring  for  the  good  of  his  kind,  and  regret 
his  own  death  mainly  because  it  will  stop  those 
labors.  But  how  are  ordinary  men,  of  no  specially 
elevated  moral  fibre,  to  be  carried  up  to  that 
turning-point  where  Law  is  superseded  by  love  ?  I 
am  far  from  thinking  that  men  may  not  and  do  not 
often  begin  their  self-reformation  when  they  are  (so 
far  as  their  own  consciousness  goes)  quite  alienated 
from  God  or  disbelieving  his  existence.  I  know,  on 
the  contrary,  that  it  is  no  uncommon  experience  that 
this  should  be  so.  But,  in  the  ordinary  history  of 
the  soul,  the  resolute  effort  to  obey  conscience  after 
a  very  little  time  brings  with  it  a  sense,  first  dim, 
then  shining  more  to  the  perfect  day,  that  there  is 
(as  Mr.  Matthew  Arnold  says)  ua  Power  not 
ourselves  which  makes  for  righteousness " ;  or,  in 
plainer  revelation,  that  God  watches  and  helps  the 
soul  which  strives  to  do  right.  Henceforth,  the 
mechanical  moral  effort  is  aided  by  the  electric  force 
of  religion,  burning  away  the  dross  of  sin  in  the  fire 
of  a  divine  Presence,  and  making  self-sacrifice  sweet 
as  an  offering  of  love.  But  if  this  normal  process, 
whereby  morality  leads  up  to  religion  and  becomes 
thereby  aided  through  all  future  effort,  is  to  be 


t>2  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

rigidly  prohibited  by  reason,  if  we  are  to  starve  out 
the  religious  sentiment  as  a  passion  not  to  be  in- 
dulged by  a  rational  being,  then,  I  ask,  how  many 
are  the  men  and  women  who,  after  their  first  good 
resolutions,  will  persist  in  the  course  of  arduous 
moral  effort  long  enough  to  reach  that  stage  when 
duty  becomes  comparatively  easy?  Where  are  the 
aids  to  come  from  to  keep  them  from  self-indulgence  ? 
We  have  seen  that  the  moral  law  itself  is  to  be 
represented  to  them  as  merely  an  hereditary  set  of 
the  brain ;  that  they  are  not  to  dream  there  is  any 
Holy  Eye  looking  at  them,  any  strong  Hand  ready 
to  aid  their  feeble  steps,  any  Infinite  Love  drawing 
them  to  itself,  any  Life  beyond  the  grave  where  the 
imperfect  virtue  of  earth  shall  grow  and  blossom  in 
eternal  beauty.  All  these-  ideas  are  to  be  resolutely 
dismissed.  The  habit  of  prayer  (irreparable,  im- 
measurable loss)  is  to  be  discarded.  Nothing  is  to 
be  left  save  only  the  one  motive  of  the  Enthusiasm 
of  Humanity,  which  is  to  replace  God  and  con- 
science and  heaven.  Let  me  speak  out  concerning 
this  much-boasted  modern  sentiment. 

I  have  heard  a  good  man,  one  of  the  best  men  I 
know,  preaching  on  this  subject,  and  saying:  "Do 
you  ask  why  should  you  love  your  neighbor? 
Because  you  cannot  help  it ! "  Now,  as  I  listened 
to  that  genuine  philanthropist's  utterance,  my  heart 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  63 

smote  me,  and  I  said  to  myself :  "  But  I  could  help 
it,  and  only  too  easily !  It  comes  to  him  sponta- 
neously, I  have  no  doubt,  to  love  his  neighbors ;  but 
I  have  been  trying  to  do  it  for  many  years,  and  have 
very  imperfectly  succeeded.  Instead  of  beginning 
with  love,  and  going  on  to  duty  toward  them  as  the 
result  of  love,  I  have  had  to  begin  with  duty,  and, 
only  with  many  a  self-reproach  for  hardness  of  spirit, 
learned  at  last  to  feel  love  —  for  some  of  them !  " 

I  do  not  think  my  experience  is  exceptional.  I 
think  the  people  who  can  and  do  love  spontaneously 
that  terribly  large  section  of  our  race  who  are  com- 
monplace, narrow-minded,  and  small  of  heart,  are 
the  exceptions,  and  that,  if  we  are  to  have  no  be- 
nevolence except  from  born  philanthropists  like  the 
good  man  I  have  named,  we  shall  see  very  little  in 
future  of  the  Enthusiasm  of  Humanity. 

No !  It  takes,  for  most  of  us,  all  the  help  to  loving 
our  brother  which  comes  from  believing  that  we 
have  a  common  Father  and  a  common  home, —  all 
the  help  which  comes  to  the  heart  in  answer  to  the 
prayer  that  God  would  melt  its  stoniness,  and  make 
it  blossom  into  tenderness  and  sympathy, —  to  enable 
us  to  attain  the  love  which  is  not  the  spring  of 
social  duty,  but  its  climax, — the  "fulfilling  of  the 
law." 

I    honestly  think    that    the    process  of    making 


64  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

Atheists,  trained  as  such,  into  philanthropists,  will 
be  but  rarely  achieved.  And  I  venture  to  propound 
the  question  to  those  who  point  to  admirable  living 
examples  of  Atheistic  or  Comtist  philanthropy, — 
How  many  of  these  have  passed  through  the  earlier 
stage  of  morality  as  believers  in  Q-od,  and  with  all 
the  aid  which  prayer  and  faith  and  hope  could  give 
them?  That  they  remain  actively  benevolent,  having 
advanced  so  far,  is  (as  I  have  shown  above)  readily 
to  be  anticipated.  But  will  their  children  stand 
where  they  stand  now?  We  are  yet  obeying  the 
great  impetus  of  religion,  and  running  along  the 
rails  laid  down  by  our  forefathers.  Shall  we  con- 
tinue in  the  same  course  when  that  impetus  has 
stopped,  and  we  have  left  the  rails  altogether?  I 
fear  me  not. 

In  brief,  I  think  the  outlook  of  Atheism,  as  a 
moral  educator,  as  black  as  need  be.  Viewed  with 
the  utmost  candor,  and  admitting  all  the  excellence 
of  many  of  its  disciples,  I  think  Atheism  must 
deduct  from  morality  the  priceless  training  to  rever- 
ence afforded  by  religion;  the  illuminating  con- 
sciousness of  an  unseen  Searcher  of  hearts;  the 
invigorating  confidence  in  an  Almighty  Helper;  the 
vivifying  influence  of  divine  love ;  and,  finally, 
the  immeasurable,  inestimable  benefits  derivable 
iVom  that  practice  of  prayer  which  is  God's  own 
education  of  the  soul. 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  65 

But,  whatever  may  be  its  results  as  a  system  of 
moral  training,  Atheism,  in  its  ultimate  aspect,  must 
be,  to  every  religious  man  and  woman  who  is  driven 
to  adopt  it  in  later  life,  the  setting  of  the  sun  which 
has  warmed  and  brightened  existence.  We  may 
live  in  the  twilight;  but  that  which  gave  to  pros- 
perity its  joy,  to  grief  its  comfort,  to  duty  its  delight, 
to  love  its  sweetness,  to  solitude  its  charm,  to  all 
life  its  meaning  and  purpose,  and  to  death  its  perfect 
consolation  and  support,  is  lost  forever.  There  are 
no  words  to  tell  what  that  loss  must  be, —  worst  of 
all  to  those  who  are  least  conscious  of  it,  and  who 
have  therefore  lost  with  their  faith  in  God  those 
spiritual  faculties  in  the  exercise  of  which  man  has 
his  higher  being,  and  of  which  the  pains  are  better 
worth  than  all  the  pleasures  of  earth. 

Atheism  involves  a  far  worse  loss  to  humanity  than 
the  exclusion  of  the  belief  in  a  Life  after  Death; 
but  we  can  form  no  fair  estimate  of  the  deduction 
which  our  complacent  Agnostics  are  prepared  to 
make  from  the  sum  of  human  virtue  and  happiness, 
if  we  do  not  thoroughly  realize  what  it  is  they  are 
talking  of  when  they  tell  us  so  cheerfully  to  abandon 
the  hope  of  Immortality,  as  well  as  the  belief  in  God, 
and  that  they  are  quite  satisfied  to  do  both. 

As  far  as  each  individual  is  personally  concerned, 
such  Hope  is  of  course  a  very  variable  sentiment. 


66  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

There  are  those  who  say  (as  Miss  Martineau  men- 
tions Mr.  W.  E.  Forster  saying  to  her),  "I  would 
rather  be  damned  than  annihilated."  And  there  are 
others  who  say,  as  she  does  herself,  "I  have  had  a 
very  noble  share  of  life,  and  I  do  not  ask  any  more." 
With  the  latter  feeling  per  se,  no  one  has  a  right  to 
quarrel.  To  many,  no  doubt,  especially  persons  of 
feeble  bodily  health  or  overstrained  conscientious- 
ness, the  notion  of  final  repose  is  more  grateful  than 
that  of  an  immortality  of  activity.  They  feel  in  our 
day,  as  it  would  seem  almost  everybody  did  in  more 
trying  times,  that  it  was  the  "rest  which  remaineth 
for  the  people  of  God,"  beyond  the  storms  of  the 
world, — the  "everlasting  beds  of  rest"  on  which  the 
weary  may  lie, —  rather  than  our  more  modern  notion 
of  a  Heaven  of  Progress,  to  which  they  aspire. 
There  are  Buddhists  of  the  West  as  of  the  East,  to 
whom,  by  some  natural  or  acquired  habit  of  mind, 
existence  itself  seems  a  burden ;  and  they  extend  the 
taedium  vitae  which  they  feel  here  by  anticipation  to 
any  future  state  to  which  they  could  be  transferred. 
With  such  persons  as  these,  as  I  have  just  said,  we 
have  no  claim  to  contend,  even  though  we  may 
think,  with  Tennyson,  that,  if  they  knew  themselves 
better,  they  would  recognize  that,  even  in  uttermost 

lassitude, 

"  'Tis  life  of  which  our  veins  are  scant ; 
O  Life,  not  Death,  for  which  we  pant ; 
More  Hfe,  and  fuller,  that  we  want." 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  67 

The  dreams  of  men  as  to  what  they  desire  beyond 
the  grave  are  infinitely  varied,  from  Nirvana  to  Val- 
halla ;  and  nothing  is  to  be  said,  so  far  as  he  himself 
is  concerned,  respecting  a  man  who  wishes  it  to  be 
written  on  his  tombstone  that  he 

"  From  Nature's  temperate  feast  rose  satisfied, 
Thanked  Heaven  that  he  had  lived  and  that  he  died," 

except  this, — that  his  choice  of  eternal  sleep  betrays 
the  fact  that  there  is  no  one  in  this  world  or  the  next 
whom  he  loves  well  enough  to  wish  to  be  awakened  to 
meet  him  again.  Of  course,  a  man  may  have  abun- 
dance of  kindly  and  dutiful  sentiments  for  his  rela- 
tives and  friends,  and  yet  (thinking  they  will  do  well 
enough  without  him)  be  satisfied  to  quit  them  for 
ever.  But  I  cannot  believe  that  any  one  who  has 
ever  lost  the  object  of  the  higher  and  more  absorbing 
human  affection,  or  who  leaves  behind  him  in  dying 
one  united  to  him  by  such  transcendent  love,  can 
fail  passionately  to  desire  immortality.  He  may 
resign  himself  through  philosophy  or  religion  (if  his 
religion  take  the  strange  and  rare  form  of  belief  in 
God  and  disbelief  in  a  life  to  come)  to  see  his 
beloved  one  no  more.  But  not  to  desire  to  meet,  at 
any  cost  of  unwelcome  ages  of  life,  the  being  we 
profess  to  love  supremely,  seems  to  be  a  contradic- 
tion in  terms.  Were  there  to  loom  before  us  worlds 


68  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

to  climb,  and  centuries  of  labor,  we  would  surely 
thankfully  go  through  them  all  to  reach  the  hour 
when  we  shall  say, 

"  Soul  of  my  soul,  I  shall  meet  thee  again ! 
And  with  God  be  the  rest." 

But  because  a  loveless  man  may,  without  blame, 
be  content  to  let  death  drop  a  final  curtain  on  his 
consciousness,  it  is  quite  another  matter  for  him  to 
be  equally  placidly  resigned  to  the  extinction  of  the 
hopes  of  others,  who  have  had  no  such  feast  of  life 
as  he,  or  who  yearn  for  the  renewal  of  affection 
hereafter.  As  I  have  elsewhere  attempted  to  show, 
in  a  little  parable,  such  resignation  on  behalf  of  other 
people  is  very  much  like  that  of  Dives,*  who,  having 
fared  sumptuously,  should  be  contented  to  let  Laz- 
arus starve. 

Nor  is  it  only  the  comfort  of  expecting  to  see  our 
beloved  ones  again  which  we  shall  lose  with  the  hope 

*  The  following  letter  appeared  in  the  Spectator :  — 

SIB,— Indulging  in  the  pernicious  habit  of  reading  in  bed,  1  last  night 
perused  with  profound  interest  Mr.  Greg's  letter  in  your  current  number, 
your  own  remarks  thereupon,  and  also  Mr.  Greg's  generous  defence  of  his 
old  friend,  Harriet  Martineau,  in  the  Nineteenth  Century.  As  my  eyes 
closed  on  the  last  paragraph  of  this  article,  I  seemed  to  behold  a  vision, 
which  I  shall  take  leave  to  describe  to  you. 

Dives  had  just  eaten  a  particularly  plentiful  dinner,  and  was  standing 
at  the  door  of  a  pretty  cottage  in  Ambleside.  Lazarus,  looking  up  at  him, 
said  pitifully,  "  I  perish  with  hunger."  Thereupon,  Dives  observed,  with 
great  serenity  :  "  Lazarus,  I  have  had  an  excellent  dinner.  There  is  not 
a  crumb  left.  But  I  am  quite  content,  and  you  ought  to  be  the  same," 


MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM.  69 

of  a  future  life.  I  am  persuaded  that  a  great  deal  of 
the  higher  part  of  love  itself  will  fade  out  of  human 
existence  altogether,  if  that  hope  be  generally  aban- 
doned. Every  one  knows  how  friendship  and  mar- 
riage are  hallowed  by  the  thought  of  their  perpetuity 
even  in  this  world,  and  how  a  union  is  debased  if  it 
be,  consciously  to  those  who  make  it,  temporary  and 
transitory.  Hitherto,  we  have  loved  one  another  as 
immortal  beings,  as  creatures  whose  affections  be- 
longed to  the  exalted  order  of  eternal  things.  When 
that  ennobling  and  sanctifying  element  evaporates, 
when  Love,  like  everything  else,  is  reduced  to  a 
question  of  days  and  months  and  years,  will  it  not 
undergo  somewhat  of  the  degradation  which  now 
belongs  to  the  brief  contracts  of  passion?  Even 

Poor  Lazarus,  however,  instead  of  seeming  satisfied,  wailed  yet  more 
sadly  :  "  But  I  hunger,  Dives  !  I  hunger  for  the  bread  of  life  !  I  hunger 
for  human  love,  of  which  I  had  only  begun  to  taste,  when  it  was  snatched 
away.  I  hunger  for  justice,  of  which  such  scant  measure  has  been  dealt 
me,  and  to  millions  like  me.  I  hunger  for  truth,  I  hunger  for  beauty,  I 
hunger  for  righteousness,  I  hunger  for  a  love  holy,  divine,  and  perfect, 
which  alone  can  satisfy  my  soul.  I  hunger,  Dives !  I  hunger,  and  you 
tell  me  there  is  not  a  crumb  left  of  the  rich  feast  of  existence,  and  bid  me 
be  content.  It  is  a  cruel  mockery." 

Then  Dives  answered  yet  more  placidly  :  "  I  never  dream  of  wishing 
anything  were  otherwise  than  it  is.  I  am  frankly  satisfied  to  have  done 
with  life.  I  have  had  a  noble  share  of  it,  and  I  desire  no  more.  I  utterly 
disbelieve  in  a  future  life." 

At  that  moment,  my  respected  friend  Mr.  Greg  passed  by,  and  heard 
what  Dives  was  saying;  on  which,  to  my  great  surprise,  he  made  the 
following  observation:  "  This  is,  unquestionably,  the  harder— may  it  not 


70  MAGNANIMOUS   ATHEISM. 

those  who  might  still  be  able  to  feel  all  the  holiness 
of  love  would,  when  they  learned  it  was  destined  to 
end  in  the  agony  of  eternal  separation,  check  them- 
selves from  indulging  a  sentiment  leading  up  inevita- 
bly to  such  a  termination,  just  as  a  man  would  turn 
from  a  path  ending  in  a  precipice. 

Thus,  I  believe,  the  affections  must  irretrievably 
suffer  from  the  loss  of  the  hope  of  immortality.  So 
must,  in  a  measure,  the  intellect  and  the  imagination, 
driven  from  the  wider  expanse  back  on  that  poor 
fleshly  life  which  is  to  be  the  end-all  of  man,  and 
which  must  be  destined  to  assume  an  importance  it 
has  never  possessed  since  our  race  emerged  from  its 
brute  and  barbarian  origin.  Nor  would  our  moral 
life  fail  to  suffer  also  very  grievously,  though  in 
another  way  from  that  which  has  been  alleged.  I 
think  we  can  scarcely  now  estimate  the  minifying 

also  be  the  higher?  — form  of  pious  resignation,  the  last  achievement  of 
the  ripened  mind." 

As  for  Lazarus,  on  catching  Mr.  Greg's  remark,  he  turned  himself 
painfully  on  the  ground,  and  groaned:  "  I  never  heard  before  of  anybody 
being  'piously  resigned'  to  the  woes  and  wants  of  other  people.  La 
Rochefoucauld  was  right,  I  suppose,  to  say,  'Nous  avons  tous  assez  de 
force  pour  supporter  les  inaux  d'autrui ' ;  but,  for  my  part,  I  should  not 
precisely  call  Dives'  satisfaction  in  his  '  noble  share '  of  the  feast,  while 
I  am  doomed  to  perish  starving,  by  quite  so  fine  a  name  as  '  pious 
resignation.'  Pray,  Mr.  Greg,  with  your  large  humanity,  take  my  case 
into  consideration,  before  you  credit  Dives  with  anything  better  than 
stupendous  egotism." 

Startled  by  the  vehemence  of  poor  Lazarus,  I  awoke. 
I  am,  Sir,  etc. 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  71 

consequences  of  closing  all  outlook  beyond  this 
world,  and  shutting  up  morality  within  the  narrow 
sphere  of  mortal  life.  As  I  have  said  in  my  Hopes 
of  the  Human  Race,  it  is  not  possible  we  should  con- 
tinue to  attach  to  virtue  and  vice  the  same  profound 
significance,  when  we  believe  their  scope  to  reach  no 
further  than  our  brief  span,  and  justice  to  be  a 
dream  of  our  puny  race  never  to  be  realized 
throughout  the  eternal  ages.  In  theory,  right  and 
wrong  must  come  to  be  regarded  as  of  compara- 
tively trivial  importance ;  and,  practically,  the  virtue 
destined  shortly  to  be  extinguished  forever  must 
seem  to  the  tempted  soul  scarcely  deserving  of  an 
effort.  Life,  after  we  have  passed  its  meridian,  must 
become  in  our  eyes  more  and  more  like  an  autumn 
garden,  wherein  it  would  be  vain  to  plant  seeds  of 
good  which  can  never  bloom  before  the  frosts  of 
death,  and  useless  to  eradicate  weeds  which  must  be 
killed  erelong  without  our  labor.  Needless  to  add 
that  of  that  dismal  spot  it  may  soon  be  said, — 

"  Between  the  time  of  the  wind  and  the  snow, 
All  loathsome  things  began  to  grow" ; 

and,  when  the  winter  comes  at  last,  none  will  regret 
the  white  shroud  it  throws  over  corruption  and 
decay. 

But  it  is  when  we  come  to  think  of  humanity  as  a 


72  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

whole  that  the  prospect  of  final  extinction  appears  so 
unutterably  deplorable,  so  lame  and  impotent  a  con- 
clusion for  all  the  struggles,  the  martyrdoms,  and 
the  prayers  of  a  hundred  generations  who  have  gone 
to  the  grave  in  hope  and  faith,  and  perished  there. 
We  English  men  and  women  have  been  wont  to 
think  proudly  of  the  vast  geographical  extension  of 
our  country's  dominion,  the  grandeur  of  the  Empire 
on  which  the  sun  never  sets ;  and  the  remark  has 
often  been  made  that  there  is  not  a  petty  corpora- 
tion or  board  in  the  kingdom  whose  proceedings  are 
not,  in  a  degree,  dignified  by  the  sense  of  England's 
greatness.  The  politicians  who  have  expressed  a 
readiness  to  give  up  our  Colonies  have  been  taunted, 
and  justly,  with  lack  of  the  nobler  patriotism  which 
regards  not  only  financial  and  administrative  details, 
but  the  larger  interests  and  glory  of  what  we  have 
delighted  to  call  our  Imperial  Race.  But  what 
would  be  the  loss  to  the  prestige  of  England  of  the 
severance  of  Australia  and  Canada  and  India,  com- 
pared to  the  loss  to  mankind  of  that  glorious  empery 
of  Immortality  in  which  it  has  prided  itself  since  the 
beginning  of  history  ?  Everything  we  have  achieved 
arid  thought  —  our  literature,  art,  laws,  kingdoms, 
churches  —  has  all  been  wrought  and  built  up  in 
this  faith,  which  has  given  value  to  the  soul  of  the 
humblest  child,  and  added  grandeur  to  the  most 


MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM.  73 

splendid  deeds  of  the  hero  and  the  martyr.  With 
that  hope  disappears  not  only  the  consolation  of  all 
bereaved  hearts,  but  the  very  crown  upon  the  head 
of  humanity. 


It  is  no  argument  for  the  truth  of  any  opinion 
that  the  disclosure  of  its  falsehood  may  have  dis- 
astrous consequences.  Nothing  that  has  been  ad- 
vanced in  this  paper  proves,  or  has  been  offered  as 
proof,  that  there  is  a  God  or  a  life  to  come.  The 
foundations  for  those  beliefs  belong  to  a  different 
order  of  considerations.  But  I  think  thus  much 
may  be  presumed  to  have  resulted  from  our  inquiry ; 
namely,  that  their  value  to  the  virtue  and  the  hap- 
piness of  mankind  is  so  incalculably  vast  that  the 
work  of  demolishing  them  ought  to  be  carried  on,  by 
men  professing  to  love  their  kind,  in  a  very  different 
spirit  from  that  which  is  generally  exhibited  by 
Agnostics.  Even  if  their  position  be  true,  and  if 
they  be  morally  bound  to  make  known  to  the 
world  that  such  is  the  case,  and  to  put  an  end  to 
the  baseless  dream  which  has  deluded  our  race  for 
so  many  thousand  years,  —  even  granting  this,  I 
think  it  remains  clear  that  their  task  is  one  to  be 
undertaken  only  under  the  sternest  sense  of  duty, 
and  with  immeasurable  mournfulness  and  regret. 


74  MAGNANIMOUS  ATHEISM. 

I  think  that,  instead  of  rejoicing  over  the  discovery 
of  "a  spring  in  the  desert,"  it  behooves  them  to 
weep  tears,  bitter  as  ever  fell  from  human  eyes,  over 
the  grave  wherein  they  bury  the  Divine  Love  and 
the  Immortal  Hope  of  our  miserable  race. 


HYGEIOLATRY, 


HYGEIOLATEY. 


THE  advance  of  physical  science  and  the  simul- 
taneous retreat  of  religious  faith  threaten,  among 
their  numerous  consequences,  to  introduce  a  new 
principle  into  morals.  We  may  call  it  Doctor's  Doc- 
trine,—  not  because  it  is  by  any  means  the  exclusive 
property  of  the  medical  profession,  or  that  all  doc- 
tors can  be  supposed  to  hold  it,  but  because  it  is 
more  rife  among  them  and  tells  more  directly  on 
their  work  than  in  the  case  of  other  men.  It  is 
indeed  excusable  for  a  physician  to  attribute  to 
bodily  health,  wherewith  this  new  principle  is  con- 
cerned, more  importance  than  a  poet,  a  preacher,  or 
a  soldier,  is  likely  to  concede  to  it;  and  to  this 
natural  tendency  is  added,  pretty  frequently  perhaps, 
a  tolerably  denned  materialism,  which  not  merely 
connects  but  identifies  genius,  happiness,  and  virtue 
with  physical  soundness,  and  stupidity,  misery,  and 
crime  with  diseased  organization.  With  such  views, 
and  deprived  of  that  vista  of  an  eternal  future  which 
alone  gives  to  human  things  their  true  perspective, 


78  HYGEIOLATBY. 

it  is  not  wonderful  that  many  should  come  to  regard 
bodily  health  as  the  summum  bonum,  and  thence  to 
deduce  the  principle  to  which  I  desire  to  call  atten- 
tion as  an  innovation  in  ethics.  Reduced  as  nearly 
as  possible  to  a  formula,  that  principle  is  as  follows : 

That  any  practice  which,  in  the  opinion  of  experts, 
conduces  to  bodily  health  or  tends  to  the  cure  of  dis- 
ease, becomes,  ipso  facto,  morally  lawful  and  rigJit. 

I  do  not  mean  to  imply  that  this  principle  has  yet 
been  clearly  stated  by  any  of  its  adherents,  or  that 
they  are  even  generally  conscious  that  they  have 
adopted  it.  Possibly,  many  who  have  practically 
embodied  it  in  their  conduct  for  years  may  repudiate 
it  on  seeing  it  denned  in  words.  Nevertheless,  it 
may  be  traced  as  the  substructure  of  innumerable 
arguments  on  all  manner  of  subjects  of  public  and 
private  interest, —  arguments  which,  if  the  principle 
were  knocked  from  under  them,  would  instantly  be 
seen  to  fall  baseless  to  the  ground.  It  is,  in  short, 
the  implied  major  term  of  a  thousand  syllogisms 
which  we  hear  in  every  debate  and  read  in  every 
magazine  and  newspaper. 

Now,  to  measure  the  extent  of  the  change  which 
the  adoption  of  this  Doctor's  Doctrine  must  intro- 
duce into  ethics,  it  is  only  necessary  to  cast  a  glance 
backward  at  the  older  view  of  the  relation  of  duty 
to  health  which  has  hitherto  prevailed  in  the  world, 


HYGEIOLATEY.  79 

and  been  taught  pretty  equally  by  moralists  of  every 
school,  with  the  exception  of  ascetics  on  one  side, 
and  pure  hedonists  on  the  other.  That  older  lesson 
—  which  we  may  for  convenience  call  Divine's  Doc- 
trine, since  it  is  the  general  teaching  of  every  Prot- 
estant theologian  and  moralist,  may  be  summed  up 
in  the  canon  — 

Bodily  health  may  not  be  lawfully  sacrificed  to  our 
desire  of  pleasure  or  fear  of  pain.  It  may  and 
ought  to  be  sacrificed  to  the  health  of  our  souls,  to  the 
service  of  our  fellowmen,  or  to  fidelity  to  Grod. 

In  other  words,  it  has  been  taught  that  the  man 
who  injures  his  health  by  debauchery  is  guilty  of  a 
serious  moral  offence,  and  he  who  commits  suicide 
is  guilty  of  a  crime;  but  that,  on  the  other  hand, 
the  man  who  sacrifices  his  health  in  the  performance 
of  his  duty  as  physician,  clergyman,  or  soldier,  or  in 
endeavoring  to  save  a  fellow-creature  from  flood  or 
fire,  or  who  gives  up  life  itself  rather  than  forswear 
himself  or  renounce  his  religious  faith,  or  commit 
a  base  or  unclean  action,  is  not  only  exonerated 
from  any  guilt,  but  is,  in  the  highest  degree,  virtuous. 

On  these  lines,  Christian  civilization  may  be  said 
to  have  been  built  up.  The  natural  selfishness  of 
human  nature  has  been  counteracted  by  the  sense 
of  duty ;  and  if,  now  and  then,  needless  and  exag- 
gerated self-sacrifices  without  adequate  reason  have 


80  HYGEIOLATRY. 

been  made,  and  there  was  room  for  brave  Charles 
Kingsley  to  preach  the  claims  of  the  natural  laws 
of  life,  a  thousand  times  more  often  has  the  sense 
of  duty  enabled  men  and  women  to  perform  alike 
the  painful  daily  tasks  whereby  our  homes  are  made 
beautiful  and  sacred,  and  the  occasional  acts  of 
heroism  wherewith  human  existence  on  earth  is 
crowned  and  glorified. 

It  needs  no  words  to  prove  to  any  one  who 
reflects  that  two-thirds  of  what  we  have  been  wont 
to  reverence  as  homely  virtue  and  all  the  martyr- 
doms of  history  consist  precisely  in  the  voluntary 
sacrifice  of  health,  or  of  health  and  life  together. 
To  withhold  from  such  sacrifices  the  meed  of  moral 
admiration  would  be  to  reverse  the  judgment  of  all 
the  ages, — to  prefer  Sardanapalus  and  Heliogabalus 
to  Curtius  and  Regulus,  and  to  treat  as  a  deluded 
fanatic  the  apostle  who  converted  the  Gentile  world, 
but  spent  his  years  in  perils  by  sea  and  land  amid 
prisons  and  scourgings.  From  the  crucifixion  of 
Christ  to  the  silent  self-immolation  of  the  poor 
consumptive  girl  who  works  half-blinded  through 
the  winter's  night  to  support  her  aged  mother,  the 
holiest  and  the  sweetest  things  this  earth  has  wit- 
nessed have  been  the  actions  of  those  who  counted 
not  their  lives  dear  to  them,  so  long  as  they  could 
obey  the  law  of  truth,  of  righteousness,  and  of  love. 


HYGEIOLATEY.  81 

But  how  is  this  recognition  of  the  duty  and  glory 
of  the  sacrifice  of  health  and  life  at  the  call  of  every 
higher  law  to  be  reconciled  with  the  "  Doctor's  Doc- 
trine "  that  the  interests  of  health  are  so  supreme 
that  they  themselves  constitute  the  highest  law,  and 
render  any  practice  conducive  to  them  ipso  facto 
lawful?  Either  we  must  admit,  according  to  the 
Divine's  Doctrine,  that  moral  interests  transcend 
bodily  interests,  or  we  must  hold,  according  to 
Doctor's  Doctrine,  that  bodily  interests  transcend 
moral  interests.  There  is  no  third  alternative. 
One  principle  or  the  other  must  prevail,  and  sooner 
or  later  leaven  society  with  its  ennobling  or  else  its 
debasing  influence.  There  are  signs  apparent  that 
the  Doctor's  Doctrine  is  already  bearing  its  proper 
fruit,  and  that,  soothed  by  a  becalmed  conscience, 
absolved  by  the  authority  of  the  priesthood  of  Sci- 
ence, men  and  women  are  beginning  to  be  syste- 
matically selfish  and  self-indulgent  where  their 
health  is  concerned,  or  where  there  may  appear  a 
chance  of  curing  their  maladies  in  modes  not 
hitherto  witnessed.  I  can  only  indicate  a  few  of 
the  ways  in  which  this  deliberate  self-preservation 
is  exhibited. 

Notably,  it  seems  that  the  old  courage  of  English- 
men is  dwindling  away.  Almost  every  month,  cases 
come  to  light  wherein  men,  even  soldiers,  fail  to 


82  HYGMOLATBY. 

stand  by  their  comrades  in  danger;  or  wherein  a 
crowd  of  fifty  people  witness  a  child  drowning  in 
a  shallow  pond  without  an  effort  to  save  it ;  or  men 
who  witness  a  cruel  murder  rush  from  the  spot, 
leaving  the  yet  breathing  victim  dying  unaided 
on  the  ground.  There  is  even,  among  young  men, 
a  cynical  avowal  of  prudent  concern  for  their  own 
lives  and  limbs  which  constantly  strikes  the  old,  who 
remember  the  joyous  youthful  fearlessness  of  their 
fathers,  as  something  altogether  new  and  far  indeed 
from  pleasant  to  contemplate. 

Nor  are  our  personal  acts  of  selfishness  and  cow- 
ardice on  a  small  scale  the  only  logical  conse- 
quences of  the  new  principle  which  are  already 
visible.  Cruelty  of  the  most  heinous  and  system- 
atic kind  is  another  result.  The  unanimous  reso- 
lution passed  by  the  great  Medical  Congress  in  the 
year  of  grace  1881  has  proclaimed  that  vivisection 
leads  to  discoveries  conducive  to  the  cure  of 
disease,  and  therefore  should  be  sanctioned  and  left 
unrestricted  by  law.  That  is  to  say,  that  all  the 
fiendish  imaginations  of  men  like  Mantegazza  and 
Schiff,  and  Goltz  and  Bernard,  and  Paul  Bert, 
should  be  freely  permitted  in  England  for  the  sake 
of  a  chance  of  useful  hints  for  therapeutic  science. 
Thus,  the  whole  medical  profession  in  England 
stands  committed  to  the  demand  that  the  vice  of 


HYGEIOLATBY.  83 

cruelty  in  young  men  and  old  should  be  deliberately 
unchained,  expressly  for  the  sake  of  anticipated  ben- 
efits to  bodily  health. 

So  far  indeed  has  Doctor's  Doctrine  made  its  way 
that,  whenever  any  Bill  concerning  sanitary  measures 
or  public  hygiene  is  before  Parliament,  there  is  ex- 
hibited by  the  speakers  in  the  House,  and  by  the 
journalists  who  discuss  the  matter,  a  readiness  to 
trample  on  personal  rights  to  an  extent  which  would 
excite  indignation,  were  any  religious  or  commercial 
interest  in  question.  Men  may  spread  the  most 
deadly  moral  diseases,  and  teach  doctrines  which 
make  virtue  a  mockery  and  life  a  hopeless  desola- 
tion, and  scarcely  an  effort  is  made  to  stop  them. 
But  let  them  threaten  to  spread  bodily  disease, 
and  (unless  they  be  medical  men,  and  thus  author- 
ized transmitters  of  infection)  the  most  stringent 
measures  are  adopted ;  and  besides  a  Compulsory 
Vaccination  Act  and  the  ever-infamous  Contagious 
Diseases  Acts,  even  while  these  sheets  are  passing 
through  the  press,  no  less  than  three  Bills  are  before 
Parliament  to  make  compulsory  the  notification  of 
infectious  disease  and  segregation  of  infected  per- 
sons. I  am  not  now  discussing  the  merits  of  these 
Acts  and  Bills:  I  am  only  observing  that  the  spirit 
wherewith  they  are  carried  forward  is  quite  an  in- 
novation in  English  legislation.  Health  of  body  has 


84  HYGEIOLATRY. 

been  accorded  the  importance  which  the  —  real  or 
supposed — interests  of  the  soul  alone  commanded 
two  centuries  ago ;  and  the  tyranny  of  the  priest- 
hood of  Hygeia  threatens  to  be  as  high-handed  as 
ever  was  that  of  the  Churches  of  Rome  or  of  Geneva. 
Lastly  there  is,  outside  of  legislation,  and  hidden 
from  the  knowledge  of  the  majority  of  the  laity, 
one  remaining  application  of  the  new  principle  of 
morals  which  more  than  all  exhibits  its  evil,  its  dis- 
astrous tendency.  For  obvious  reasons,  I  cannot 
write  plainly  of  this  moral  poisoning,  which  I  believe 
to  be  going  on  to  a  frightful  extent,  both  in  this 
country  and  abroad.  I  can  only  quote  some  obser- 
vations made  on  it  by  an  experienced  minister  of 
religion,  published  in  the  Modern  Review  for  April, 
1880:  — 

Any  one  who  will  make  a  few  casual  inquiries  will  be  amazed 
to  discover  the  frequency  with  which  medical  men  of  high  repute 
—  men  who  are  admitted  to  the  friendship  of  good  and  unsus- 
pecting women  —  offer  counsel  to  young  men,  and  even  to  boys, 
which  strikes  at  the  root  of  all  morality,  and  indeed  can  pro- 
ceed from  nothing  else  than  scepticism  concerning  the  very  possi- 
bility of  morality  itself.  We  speak  what  we  know  not  of  one, 
but  of  many,  and  what  no  medical  man  will  deny,  though  many 
a  medical  man  will  revolt  from  the  action  of  his  fellow-practi- 
tioners as  vehemently  as  we  ourselves.  What  we  ask  of  these 
purer  spirits  in  the  healing  fraternity  is  that  they  will  speak  out 
on  this  and  other  matters  of  professional  practice,  and  condemn 
their  less  honorable  colleagues  with  no  faltering  tongue. 


HYGEIOLATBY.  85 

y 

The  Bishop  of  Bedford  taking  the  chair  at  the 
meeting,  May  3  of  the  present  year  (1882),  of  the 
Social  Purity  Alliance,  alluded  to  this  heavy  charge 
against  the  medical  profession  in  the  following 
terms :  "I  know  what  doctors  say,  and  I  here  pub- 
licly protest  against  the  terrible  thing  that  is  often 
said  by  doctors  to  young  men, — that  sin  is  good  for 
their  health.  I  say  God  forgive  those  who  have 
said  it." 

But  it  will  be  replied:  "All  these  evils  have 
existed  for  ages.  There  have  always  been  found 
selfish,  cruel,  cowardly,  and  profligate  men,  ready  to 
transgress  when  their  inclinations  goaded  them,  will- 
ing to  rank  their  own  health,  life,  and  enjoyment 
far  before  the  law  of  God  or  the  interest  of  their 
fellows.  What  signifies,  then,  a  new  formula  of 
selfishness  ?  " 

It  signifies,  I  venture  to  say,  a  great  deal.  Hith- 
erto, men  did  evil ;  but  they  (or  their  neighbors  for 
them)  had  at  least  the  grace  to  recognize  that  it 
was  evil.  The  selfish  man  was  charged  with  selfish- 
ness. The  cruel  man  did  not  assume  the  airs  of  a 
benefactor  of  mankind.  The  coward  was  kicked  as 
a  poltroon,  not  rewarded  with  sympathetic  smiles 
for  his  candor.  The  man  who  sought  the  dens  of 
vice  did  not  go  thither  with  his  conscience  pacified 
by  his  physician's  orders  in  his  pocket.  To  teach 


86  HYGEIOLATRY. 

men  that  "a  practice  conducive  to  health  is  ipso 
facto  morally  -right"  is  then,  at  one  and  the  same 
moment,  to  damp  every  aspiration  after  the  nobler 
kinds  of  virtue,  and  to  supply  a  justification  for 
every  meaner  kind  of  vice. 

Neither  selfishness,  nor  cowardice,  nor  cruelty, 
nor  unchastity,  can  be  justifiable  by  the  plea  that 
they  may  conduce  to  the  bodily  health  of  one  man 
or  of  a  thousand  men;  and  he  who  will  save  his  life 
by  such  means  will  assuredly  lose  all  that  makes 
"  life  worth  living,"  all  for  which  life  was  given. 


PESSIMISM,  AND  ONE  OP  ITS  PEO- 
FESSOES. 


PESSIMISM,  AND  ONE  OP  ITS  PKOFESSOKS. 


THE  Rise  and  Progress  of  Buddhism  in  Europe 
may  possibly  form  the  subject  of  a  long  chapter  in 
the  hands  of  a  Mosheim  of  the  twentieth  century. 
Hitherto,  among  all  Western  nations,  not  less  than 
among  the  Jews,  there  has  been  a  tolerable  unani- 
mous consensus  that  life,  on  the  whole,  is  good,  and 
that  it  is  a  pleasant  thing  for  the  eyes  to  behold  the 
sun.  Happiness,  like  health,  has  been  assumed  to  be 
the  normal  condition  of  sentient  beings ;  and  misery, 
like  disease,  to  be  exceptional  and  abnormal.  The 
dead  have  been  pitied,  inasmuch  as  they  had  passed 
av#y  from  so  pleasant  a  world;  more  especially  so 
by  those  classic  peoples  who  believed  that  the  de- 
parted dwelt  in  an  insubstantial  realm  of  shadows. 
No  energetic  Northern  race,  however,  contented  itself 
with  a  twilight  Hades,  but  built  up  in  imagination 
a  Valhalla  of  feast  and  war  for  the  worshipper  of 
Odin ;  and,  for  the  disciple  of  the  Druid,  a  glorious 
ascension  from  the  darkness  of  "Abred"  to  the  light 
and  felicity  of  "  Gwynfyd."  Christianity,  in  its  per- 


90       PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS  PKOFESSORS. 

verted  forms,  Catholic  ascetic  and  Calvinist,  took 
away,  indeed,  much  of  the  joyfulness  of  the  old 
heathen  world,  and  made  divines  speak  of  our 
earthly  abode  as  a  "city  of  wrath"  or  "vale  of 
tears."  But  they  were  all  the  more  urgent  that 
men  should  fight  the  good  fight,  of  which  the  crown 
should  be  "life  everlasting"  in  the  New  Jerusalem; 
and,  for  the  majority  of  their  flocks,  even  if  this 
sinful  planet  remained,  it  would  appear  at  all  times, 
i  sufficiently  desirable  habitation  to  make  depart- 
ure from  it  unwelcome. 

Brought  up  in  these  common  views,  probably  not 
one  of  us  modern  Europeans  has  perused,  for  the 
first  time,  a  philosophical  statement  of  the  pessimist 
principles  which  underlie  the  vast  religions  of  the 
farther  East,  without  a  shock  of  astonishment.  Indi- 
vidually, we  may  have  found  our  particular  share  of 
existence  painful  rather  than  pleasurable.  Disease, 
poverty,  disappointment,  bereavement,  may  have  em- 
bittered our  years.  But  that  any  order  of  men, 
outside  of  lunatic  asylums,  should  lay  down  as  a 
postulate,  whereon  to  build  religion  and  morality, 
that  Life  is  per  se  an  evil,  and  that,  "whatever  we 
have  been,  'tis  something  better  not  to  be,"  and 
proceed  benevolently  to  point  out  how  we  may,  by 
much  diligence,  shake 'off  not  only  this  mortal  coil, 
but  the  entire  burden  of  being,  and  arrive  at  the 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.      91 

consummation  of  nonenity, — this  is  an  idea  revolu- 
tionizing the  order  of  our  conceptions,  and  as  nearly 
incredible  as  any  assertion  dealing  with  the  vagaries 
of  the  human  mind  may  be.  Even  yet,  perhaps, 
some  doubts  may  legitimately  linger  as  to  whether 
the  Buddhist  creed,  elsewhere  than  in  Nepaul 
(where  it  certainly  does  not  teach  annihilation), 
really  intends  by  "  Nirvana "  to  set  forth  the 
emptiness,  rather  than  the  plenitude,  of  being. 
But  that  both  Brahmin  and  Buddhist  teachers  have 
systematically  dealt  with  life  as  an  evil  rather 
than  as  a  good,  there  is,  I  apprehend,  no  question 
among  competent  inquirers.  Here,  then,  are  two 
absolutely  contrasted,  fundamental  conceptions  of 
the  totality  of  human  existence, —  the  Western,  that 
life  is  a  blessing;  the  Eastern,  that  it  is  a  curse. 
The  European  cries, — 

"  'Tis  life,  not  death,  for  which  we  pant,— 
More  life,  and  fuller,  that  we  want." 

He  "shudders  at  destruction,"  and  better  endures 
to  face  even  the  tremendous  threat  of  an  eternal 
hell  than  to  relax  the  tenacity  of  his  belief  in  an 
immortal  consciousness.  The  Indian,  on  the  con- 
trary, devoutly  hopes  that  a  life  (or  several  lives) 
of  self-abnegation,  may  bring  him  to  the  bourne 
whence  the  traveller  leaps  into  the  gulf  of  nothing- 
ness. Marvellous  to  add,  as  climax,  there  seems 


92       PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF   ITS  PROFESSOB8. 

more  likelihood  that  a  certain  number  of  highly 
educated  Germans,  Frenchmen,  and  Englishmen, 
may  learn  to  sigh  for  Nirvana  than  that  our  mis- 
sionaries will  induce  an  equal  number  of  intelligent 
Singalese,  Chinese,  or  natives  of  Siam,  to  exchange 
their  dreary  anticipations  for  the  hope  of  heaven. 

Not  to  exaggerate  the  importance  of  the  "  School " 
(if  such  it  can  be  accounted)  of  European  Buddhists, 
we  may,  I  think,  properly  afford  to  its  existence  the 
attention  due  to  a  remarkable  "fault"  in  the  strata 
of  recent  thought,  and  still  more  fitly  ponder  on 
the  significant  tokens,  scattered  through  current  lit- 
erature, of  pessimist  tendencies  quite  other  than  the 
Western  world  has  hitherto  exhibited.  Our  modern 
owls  may  be  heard  responding  to  each  other  in  their 
turrets  of  the  Nineteenth  Century  and  the  Fort- 
nightly Review, —  sometimes  solemnly  and  seriously, 
as  when  Mr.  Morley  wrote  of  "  that  droning,  piteous 
chronicle  of  wrong  and  cruelty  and  despair  which 
everlastingly  saddens  the  compassionating  ear  like 
the  moaning  of  a  midnight  sea " ;  sometimes  with 
odious  pretension  and  self-conceit  when  smaller  men 
and  foolish  women  hoot  and  croak.  In  the  brightest 
intellectual  circles,  many  of  us  have  learned  to  listen 
with  well-bred  calmness  to  assertions  from  smiling 
gentlemen  and  beautifully  dressed  ladies  touching 
the  general  wrongness  of  all  things,  and  the  par- 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.      93 

ticular  wretchedness  of  human  nature,  which,  did 
we  believe  them,  would  cause  us  to  rush  from  the 
dinner-table  and  hang  ourselves  on  the  nearest  lamp- 
post. In  Germany,  matters  have  proceeded  further ; 
and  Schopenhauer  has  been  for  some  time  as  much 
the  fashionable  Philosopher,  as  Wagner  is  the  Musi- 
cian, of  the  age. 

Of  course  there  are  various  degrees  and  kinds  of 
Pessimism  everywhere  to  be  noted.  There  is  the 
Philanthropic  Pessimist  who  thinks  his  fellow-creat- 
ures are  merely  wretched  ;  and  the  Misanthropic 
Pessimist,  who  thinks  them  both  wretched  and  des- 
picable. There  is  the  Theistic  Pessimist,  who  still 
believes  in  God,  but  considers  Him  either  to  be  a 
"baffled  Ormusd,"  or  else  to  look  down  from  such 
heights  on  human  affairs  as  to  regard  them  no  more 
than  we  do  the  politics  and  catastrophes  of  an  ant- 
hill. And,  finally,  there  is  the  Atheistic  Pessimist, 
who  has  abandoned  the  notion  of  an  Intelligence 
at  the  helm  of  the  Universe,  and  believes  only  in  a 
blind  Force,  irresponsible  for  all  the  misery  and 
crime  of  which  He — or  rather  It  —  is-  the  cause. 
For  all  these  varied  kinds  of  Pessimism  there  seem 
to  be  two  quite  distinct  sources, —  a  good  and  noble, 
and  a  bad  and  base  one.  Each  of  these  sources  leads 
to  results  having  an  outward  apparent  similarity, 
and  accordingly  creates  an  illusory  resemblance  be- 


94       PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS   PROFESSORS. 

tween  the  feelings  and  expressions  of  persons  whose 
characters  and  actions  are  wide  as  the  poles  asunder. 
Let  me  endeavor  to  discriminate  them. 

It  is,  at  the  first  glance,  not  a  little  remarkable 
that  the  development  of  Pessimism  to  which  I  have 
referred  should  have  taken  place  in  an  age  of  almost 
unparalleled  public  prosperity.  Probably  the  suffer- 
ings caused  by  disease,  by  want,  and  by  injustice,  are 
now  at  their  minimum  in  the  settled  countries  of 
Europe.  And  yet  it  is  in  our  time  that  men  are 
now  beginning  formally  to  pronounce  the  evil  of  the 
world  to  exceed  the  good,  and  to  treat  what  their 
fathers  deemed  the  "beneficent  order  of  Provi- 
dence," as  too  harsh  and  unjust  a  system  to  be 
attributed  to  a  benevolent  Deity,  or  indeed  to  any 
intelligent  Being  at  all.  It  was  not  in  the  days  of 
old  oppression  and  tyranny,  of  the  great  famines  or 
the  "  Black  Death,"  that  there  was  any  such  revolt. 
When  earth  was  much  more  like  hell  than  it  is  at 
present,  few  men  entertained  any  doubt  that  there 
was  a  God  in  heaven.  Now  that  its  worst  wrongs 
are  in  course  of  alleviation  or  remedy,  and  that 
there  opens  before  our  eyes  a  vista  of  almost  illimi- 
table progress  for  our  race  in  happiness  and  virtue, 
the  whole  stupendous  scheme  is  not  unfrequently 
pronounced  to  be  nothing  better  than  a  huge  blunder. 

The  anomaly  is  certainly  striking,  and  it  may  be 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.      95 

carried  further  by  noting  who  are  those  persons 
who  find  the  world  so  bad  a  place.  As  it  is  a  pros- 
perous age  which  has  developed  Pessimism,  so  it  is 
almost  always  prosperous  people  who  are  Pessimists. 
It  is  the  rarest  thing  possible  to  hear  any  expression 
of  such  ideas  from  the  lips  of  the  suffering  or  the 
dying,  or  even  from  those  who  see  their  beloved  ones 
suffer  and  die.  A  hundred  visits  to  sordid  lodgings 
or  miserable  hovels,  to  workhouses,  jails,  hospitals, 
asylums  for  the  blind  or  the  incurably  diseased,  will 
scarcely  afford  us  the  chance  of  catching  a  phrase 
indicating  that  the  inmate  of  the  dreary  abode 
thinks  the  world  awry,  and  Providence  to  blame  for 
it.  We  must  pass  to  pleasanter  scenes, — to  the 
haunts  of  the  well-paid  lecture-frequenting  artisan, 
—  or  the  houses  of  the  most  cultivated  and  wealthy 
of  the  middle  and  upper  classes,  palaces  which 
calamity  has  never  visited,  and  where  luxurious 
food,  clothing,  furniture,  books,  flowers,  pictures, 
music,  are  accepted  as  matters  of  course ;  and  there 
we  may,  not  improbably,  be  told  that  "none  but 
bigots  who  voluntarily  close  their  eyes  to  the  terri- 
ble realities  of  life  can  dream  of  calling  the  world 
a  happy  place,  or  speak  of  its  design  as  beneficent." 
Sometimes  there  occurs  in  the  experience  of  a 
single  day  a  contrast,  almost  ludicrous,  between  the 
patience  and  gratitude  manifested  by  some  poor 


96       PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

suffering  creature — perhaps  dying  of  cancer  on  a 
pauper's  pallet — and  the  expression  of  revolt  and 
despair  used  by  a  cultivated  gentleman  who  is  pos- 
sessed of  nearly  every  source  of  human  enjoyment. 
All  this  is  not  so  unmeaning  and  perverse  as  it 
at  first  appears.  There  is  a  reason  why  our  genera- 
tion— the  happiest  and,  we  will  hope,  perhaps,  on 
the  whole,  the  best  the  world  has  yet  seen — should 
scan  the  dread  problem  of  Evil  with  other  eyes 
than  its  predecessors;  and  there  are  reasons,  far 
from  ignoble,  why  happy  men  and  women  should 
find  it  harder  to  justify  the  ways  of  God  to  the 
miserable  than  those  miserable  ones  themselves  to 
do  so  on  their  own  account.  In  the  first  place, 
our  generation  shrinks  from  the  sight  of  physical 
anguish  in  a  way  obviously  unknown  to  our  pro- 
genitors, who  could  ride  gayly  on  their  daily  errands 
under  gallows-trees  loaded  each  with  its  sickening 
weight,  or  city  gates  decorated  by  decapitated 
heads;  and  who  could  feast  and  sleep  in  the 
chambers  of  feudal  castles  while  under  their  floors 
miserable  prisoners  were  pining  in  dungeons,  or 
perhaps  expiring  amid  the  unutterable  horrors  of 
the  oubliette.  They  could  stand  by  as  unmoved 
spectators,  or  throw  fresh  fagots  on  the  piles 
where  heretics  and  witches  were  burning,  and  shout 
applause  when  half-hanged  traitors  were  cut  down 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF   ITS   PROFESSORS.      97 

from  the  rope  to  be  drawn  and  quartered.  Oppres- 
sions and  injustices  done  by  the  strong  against  the 
weak  were  matters  of  every-day  experience  in  every 
town,  almost  in  every  parish  and  household.  If 
such  things  seem  to  us  calculated  to  provoke 
vehement  indignation  and  rebellion  against  every 
Power  above  or  below  which  sanctioned  or  per- 
mitted them,  it  must  be  asked  who  was  there  in 
those  days  likely  to  feel  any  similar  indignation? 
The  laws  were  not  more  cruel  than  the  men  who 
made  them,  nor  the  legislators  than  the  mass  of 
the  nation. '  This  being  the  case,  how  should  those 
who  thought  it  right  and  just  that  their  fellows 
should  endure  such  tortures  find  anything  myste- 
rious in  the  severest  decrees  of  Providence?  The 
order  of  nature  —  harsh  to  the  eyes  of  a  John 
Stuart  Mill  or  a  Shelley — must  have  been  mild 
enough  to  those  of  the  habitues  of  autos-da-fe*,  or 
even  let  us  say  to  the  nobles  of  France  under  that 
ancien  regime  of  which  M.  Taine  has  given  us  the 
picture. 

Another  difference  between  our  age  and  all 
preceding  ones,  which  specially  touches  this  matter, 
t  is  that  in  former  times  men  thought  so  little  of 
the  lower  animals  that  their  lot  scarcely  entered 
as  an  item  into  calculation  in  the  purview  of  the 
world.  It  was  always  the  enigmas  presented  by 


98       PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF   ITS   PROFESSOKS. 

human  inequalities,  sufferings,  and  wrongs,  which 
disturbed  the  doubter  of  old.  His  questions  were, 
"  Why  do  the  wicked  flourish  like  a  green  bay-tree  ? 
Why  do  the  righteous  perish,  and  none  regardeth 
it  ?  Why  do  the  good  and  useful  die  in  the  flower 
of  their  years,  and  the  evil  live  long  in  the  land? 
Why,  in  short,  is  not  that  great  justice  of  heaven 
(in  which  man  everywhere  intuitively  believes, 
though  his  intuition  has  assuredly  never  been 
evolved  by  experience),  why  is  this  not  manifested 
in  all  the  concerns  of  human  beings  ? "  The  Book 
of  Job  posed  the  solemn  question  of  this  earlier 
doubt;  and  the  Book  of  Revelation,  by  opening 
up  to  the  gaze  of  men  a  heaven  where  the  poor 
and  the  persecuted  will  be  forever  blessed  and 
triumphant,  afforded  it  a  reply  which,  if  far  from 
complete,  has  yet  practically  sufficed  to  stay  the 
faith  of  Christendom.  By  the  fresh  stress  which 
Christianity  laid  on  the  doctrine  of  Immortality, 
and  the  different  relative  importance  which  it 
assigned  to  the  earthly  and  to  the  heavenly  life, 
it  fulfilled,  in  a  profounder  sense,  the  boast  of  the 
English  statesman.  It  "called  up  a  New  World 
to  redress  the  balance  of  the  Old."  The  orthodox 
Catholic  doctrine,  that  sin  and  suffering  are 
necessarily  permitted  by  the  Creator  to  allow 
scope  for  moral  freedom,  may  be  made  in  a  loose 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OP  ITS  PKOFESSOES.      99 

and  general  way  to  cover  the  larger  difficulties 
presented  by  the  condition  of  all  moral  beings,  for 
whose  woes,  if  in  any  case  unmerited,  compensation 
is  provided  hereafter.  So  long,  then,  as  the  destiny 
of  our  own  human  race  alone  occupied  any  appre- 
ciable place  in  philosophy  (and  this  was  down  to 
the  earlier  part  of  this  century)  there  was  not 
much  room  for  Pessimism  to  find  root  among 
Western  races.  As  to  the  brutes,  few  thought  of 
their  sufferings  at  all;  and  those  who  did  so 
dismissed  them  with  the  doctrine  that  they  shared 
the  consequences  of  the  Fall,  which  caused  "the 
whole  creation"  to  groan  and  "travail  together 
in  pain." 

"  These  emmets,  how  little  they  are  in  our  eyes ! 
We  tread  them  to  dust,  and  a  troop  of  them  dies, 
Without  our  regard  or  concern," 

as  Dr.  Watts  cheerfully  observed  of  the  poor  little 
insects,  even  when  he  was  calling  us  to  remark  their 
wondrous  forethought  and  industry.  And  larger 
animals  more  nearly  akin  to  us  were  little  more 
"  regarded  "  than  the  ants,  till  the  widening  circles  of 
our  sympathies  at  last  began  to  embrace  the  higher 
races  of  the  brute  creation;  and  their  sufferings 
then,  as  a  necessary  consequence,  immediately  took 
a  prominent  place  among  the  difficulties  of  theology. 
Geology  first  gave  a  shock  to  the  received  explana- 


100      PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

tion  of  their  destiny  by  proving  that  animals  died 
painful  deaths  aeons  before  "  man's  first  disobedi- 
ence "  could  have  taken  place,  or  man  himself  had 
existence  on  this  planet;  and  since  those,  now  dis- 
tant, days  of  Dean  Buckland's  controversies,  the 
questions  so  opened  out  have  pressed  continually 
more  upon  the  thought  of  humane  and  religious 
men,  The  faith  for  which  such  men  yearn  in  our 
day  is  to  be  assured  — 

"  That  not  a  moth  with  vain  desire 
Is  shrivelled  in  a  fruitless  fire, 
Or  but  subserves  another's  gain." 

Not  one  of  their  grandsires,  probably,  ever  enter- 
tained any  similar  idea,  but  rather  indulged  a 
sublime  contempt  of  the  "poor  Indian"  whose 
^untutored  mind"  permitted  him  to  hope  that  his 
dog  might  share  his  paradise. 

These  causes,  then,  I  think, —  namely,  the  growth 
of  a  finer  sense  of  pity  for  human  woes,  and  the 
inclusion  of  the  lower  animals  in  the  scope  of  our 
sympathies, —  suffice  to  explain  in  great  measure  the 
reasons  why  some  of  the  best  of  men  in  our  gen- 
eration feel  the  evil  and  misery  of  the  world,  and 
display  a  leaning  toward  Pessimism  unexampled  in 
harder  times. 

Nearly  all  religious  men,  looking  back  upon  life, 
seem  disposed  to  be  thankful  on  their  own  account^ 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE   OF  ITS  PBOFESSOES.     101 

and  to  acknowledge  that  goodness  and  mercy  have 
followed  them  all  the  days  of  their  lives.  They 
have  not  been  "  dealt  with  according  to  their  sins," 
but  have  many  a  time  been  set  free  from  nets  of 
their  own  weaving,  and  helped  out  of  the  mire  and 
clay  of  vice  and  passion.  Viewed  from  within,  such 
appears  to  be  the  common  testimony  concerning 
every  good  man's  career.  It  is  the  inexplicable 
mysteries  in  the  destinies  of  their  neighbors,  as 
viewed  from  outside,  and  (as  I  have  just  said)  the 
sufferings  of  the  harmless  brutes,  which  causes  such 
men  now  to  doubt  God  and  think  the  world  evil. 
Satan  tempted  the  old  Chaldsean  by  heaping  afflic- 
tions on  his  own  person.  He  tries  the  modern  Job 
more  cunningly, —  by  giving  him,  Asmodeus-fashion, 
a  wide  bird's-eye  view  of  the  woes  and  wrongs  of 
other  people. 

To  descend  from  the  general  proclivities  of  our 
age  to  those  of  individuals  toward  Pessimism,  the 
same  paradox  may  be  observed.  As  it  is  by  no 
means  altogether  a  bad  sign  of  the  times  that  there 
is  a  keener  consciousness  afloat  of  the  extent  to 
which  pain  and  wrong  prevail  in  the  world,  so 
neither  is  it  by  any  means  an  indication  of  a  bad 
disposition  when  a  man  takes  a  dark  view  of  human 
nature  and  of  life.  Timon  may  be  a  noble  fellow, 


102      PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

or  very  much  the  reverse.     We  must  study  him  in 
both  characters. 

The  noble  Timon  has  started  with  an  unusual 
share  of  generosity  and  sympathy,  and  has  become 
embittered  because  he  has  found  other  men  less 
good  and  true  than  himself.  There  is  a  certain 
average  sincerity,  average  unselfishness,  average  gen- 
erosity and  gratitude  common  among  men.  He  who 
has  a  little  above  the  average  of  such  fine  qualities 
meets  on  all  sides  disappointment.  He  finds  people 
who  display  selfishness,  where,  as  a  matter  of  course, 
he  would  have  sacrificed  his  own  convenience  or 
interest  to  theirs ;  people  who  are  mean  where  he 
would  have  been  liberal,  and  suspicious  where  he 
was  as  open  as  the  day;  and,  finally,  people  who 
return  his  kindness  with  an  ingratitude  inexplicable 
to  his  generous  mind,  rich  in  its  own  benevolence. 
What,  then,  can  happen  to  our  Timon  but  to  begin 
to  mistrust  those  whom  he  finds  so  unlike  him- 
self, to  shut  himself  from  them  (and  so,  perhaps, 
provoke  their  mistrust  in  turn),  and  very  commonly 
to  bestow  much  of  his  disappointed  affections  on 
animals,  on  whose  fidelity  he  finds  he  can  more 
surely  depend,  and  whose  wrongs  at  the  hands  of 
cruel  men  still  further  deepen  his  disgust  of  his  own 
kind  ?  All  this  time,  another  man,  whose  generosity 
and  sincerity  were,  at  starting,  a  little  below  rather 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSOBS.      103 

than  above  the  average,  has  been  passing  through 
life  pleasantly  astonished  to  find  that  his  neighbors 
will  show  him  more  kindness  than  (he  is  conscious) 
he  would  in  their  places  display,  and  rather  more 
than  less  honest  than  he  has  reckoned  to  find  them. 
Thus,  by  a  curious  contradiction,  the  nobler-natured 
man  is  much  more  liable  than  the  baser  to  develop 
into  the  misanthrope;  and  it  is  the  lofty  kind  of 
scorn  and  bitterness  properly  belonging  to  him 
which  every  Pessimist  assumes,  whether  he  truly 
feel  it  or  not.  It  is  always '  sous  entendu,  in  all 
tirades  against  human  nature,  that  the  speaker  is 
quite  incapable  of  the  weakness,  folly,  and  wicked- 
ness he  condemns ;  and  that,  if  he  refers  to  the  "  dark 
side  of  Providence,"  he  would  have  managed  the 
universe  on  better  principles.  But  it  is  extremely 
questionable  whether  we  ought  to  give  unlimited 
credit  to  the  genuineness  of  the  indignation  of  those 
gentlemen  who  denounce  the  evils  of  the  world,  but 
never  stir  a  finger  to  remove  them ;  arid  whose  per- 
sonal enjoyment  of  the  good  things  of  life  —  fine 
houses,  clothes,  dinners,  pictures,  bric-a-brac,  pleasant 
conversation,  and  favorable  reviews  of  their  books  — 
has,  manifestly,  never  been  clouded  by  their  sombre 
sense  of  the  dreadful  destiny  of  mankind  at  large, 
nor  their  appetite  for  applause  been  impaired  by 
their  profound  conviction  of  the  folly  and  contemp- 
tibility  of  the  people  by  whom  it  is  offered. 


104      PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS   PROFESSORS. 

A  Timon,  not  at  all  of  the  nobler  sort,  seems  to 
have  been  that  great  light  of  recent  German  philos- 
ophy, Arthur  Schopenhauer.  As  Schopenhauer  died 
childless,  it  will,  I  hope,  hurt  the  feelings  of  no  one 
if  we  dissect  his  character  candidly  as  that  of  the 
most  prominent  Pessimist  of  the  age.  It  will  be 
instructive,  I  think,  to  learn  the  "notes"  of  such  a 
character, —  to  study,  in  short,  of  what  kind  of  stuff 
(so  to  speak)  a  Pessimist  is  occasionally  made.  In 
justice,  we  must  carry  in  mind  that  Schopenhauer 
accomplished  a  good  deal  in  the  philosophic  way, 
besides  preaching  Pessimism.  He  worked  out  a 
metaphysical  system  of  considerable  depth  and  in- 
genuity,—  one  of  the  merits  of  which,  at  all  events, 
may  be  accounted  that  it  is  readily  applicable  to 
quite  other  views  than  those  of  its  author,  respect- 
ing the  nature  and  destiny  of  mankind.  With  this 
formidable  system,  elaborated  in  his  great  work, 
Die  Welt  ah  Wille  und  Vorstellung,  we  have,  how- 
ever (happily  for  me,  and  probably  for  my  reader), 
for  our  present  purpose,  no  concern  whatever,  but 
only  with  his  actions  and  character,  such  as  Miss 
Zimmern,  condensing  the  original  German  memoirs, 
sketched  in  a  life-like  and  transparently  truthful 
manner  in  her  Life  of  Schopenhauer. 

The  first  "note"  of  Schopenhauer's  character,  I 
should  say,  was  his  HEARTLESSNESS.  He  seems 


PESSIMISM,    AND   ONE   OF  ITS   PROFESSORS.       105 

scarcely  to  have  loved  anybody  —  in  any  sense  of 
the  word  worth  considering  —  from  his  cradle  to  his 
grave.  He  made,  indeed,  after  his  father's  death, 
much  parade  of  respect  for  his  memory;  but  his 
filial  piety,  such  as  it  was,  stopped  short  at  this 
point.  He  disliked  his  sprightly,  good-natured 
mother,  and  treated  her  with  singular  insolence. 
As  to  friendship,  he  avowed  his  opinion  that  "  men 
of  much  intellectual  worth,  more  especially  if  they 
have  genius,  can  have  but  few  friends " ;  and  lie 
verified  his  own  dictum  as  a  first-rate  genius  by 
having,  so  far  as  we  may  judge,  no  real  friends  at 
all,  though  in  later  life,  when  he  became  celebrated, 
he  had  numerous  flatterers  and  disciples.  Love  was 
even  less  in  Schopenhauer's  way  than  friendship, 
unless  we  are  to  call  by  the  title  the  passion  in  its 
coarsest  form.  His  opinion  wits  that  "  the  poetry  of 
love  is  mainly  illusion,  a  glittering  drapery  meant 
to  mantle  the  solemnity  of  the  thing  as  it  really  is  " 
(p.  222) ;  and  his  actions  were  quite  in  accordance 
with  this  crass  materialism.  He  led,  his  biographer 
states,  "no  saintly  ascetic  life,  nor  did  he  pretend  to 
this  eminence.  .  .  .  He  despised  women.  .  .  .  He  was 
only  different  from  ordinary  men  in  that  he  spoke 
of  what  others  suppressed ;  and  his  over-zealous  dis- 
ciples, who  saw  the  god-like  in  all  his  acts,  even 
dragged  these  to  the  light  of  day."  His  "  careless 


106     PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

dallying  with  beauty"  (a  euphemism,  I  presume, 
for  a  loose  life)  but  once  brought  him  to  wish  for 
a  permanent  union.  The  only  woman  whom  he  is 
recorded  to  have  desired  to  marry  was  an  actress, 
who,  at  the  time  he  was  "  enraptured  with  her," 
was  (fit  position  for  the  wife  of  a  great  moral  phi- 
losopher ! )  the  recognized  mistress  of  Duke  Carl 
August. 

It  has  sometimes  happened  that  men  who  have 
been  lacking  in  those  family  and  friendly  affections 
which  are  the  most  beautiful  things  in  human  life 
have  yet  almost  atoned  for  their  deficiency  by  their 
fervent  "  Enthusiasm  of  Humanity."  It  is  needless 
to  say  that  Schopenhauer's  character  displayed  an 
impartial  negation  of  both  orders  of  feeling.  He 
neither  loved  men  nor  women  in  particular,  nor  man 
in  general.  He  carefully  defined  himself  to  be  not 
a  misanthrope,  only  a  despiser  of  men  (p.  83).  The 
higher  a  man  stood  mentally,  he  thought,  the  lower 
must  his  fellow-men  appear.  That  it  was  the  divine 
part  of  the  greatest  to  serve  the  least  was  the  very 
last  suggestion  which  would  have  occurred  to  his 
mind.  "  I  read,"  he  observed,  "  in  the  face  of  the 
Apollo  Belvidere,  the  just  and  deep  displeasure  felt 
by  the  god  of  the  Muses  for  the  wretched  obstinacy 
of  the  Philistines " ;  and,  doubtless,  Arthur  Scho- 
penhauer figuratively  drew  himself  up,  and  felt  as 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS   PROFESSORS.      107 

like  the  Apollo  Belvidere  as  the  corporeal  circum- 
stances of  a  German  philosopher  might  permit. 

He  was  "penetrated  with  the  conviction  that  he 
had  been  placed  in  a  world  peopled  with  beings 
morally  and  intellectually  contemptible,  from  whom 
he  must  keep  apart."  In  his  note-book  (of  rather 
a  different  cast  from  that  of  Marcus  Aurelius),  he 
wrote  this  piece  of  self-counsel :  "  Study  to  acquire 
an  accurate  and  connected  view  of  the  utter  despi- 
cability  of  mankind  in  general,  then  of  your  con- 
temporaries, and  of  German  scholars  in  particular." 

The  second  "  note  "  in  Schopenhauer's  character 
was  his  exceeding  COWARDICE.  The  modern  Soc- 
rates would  have  deserted  Athens  at  the  plague, 
and  run  away  at  Potidaea.  With  what  poltroonery 
he  would  have  behaved,  when  required  to  drink 
the  hemlock,  it  is  impossible  to  imagine.  When  his 
country  was  in  the  throes  of  war  and  political  crises, 
Schopenhauer  always  carefully  moved  out  of  the 
way.  When  there  was  any  kind  of  infectious 
disease  prevalent,  he  fled  to  another  city,  so  that 
half  his  journeys  were  mere  panic  flights.  He  left 
Berlin  for  fear  of  the  cholera,  Naples  from  alarm  of 
the  small-pox,  and  Verona  because  he  took  it  into 
his  head  that  his  snuff  was  poisoned.  He  slept  with 
loaded  pistols  close  to  his  hand,  and  seized  them  at 
the  slightest  noise.  When  the  postman  brought 


108     PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS   PROFESSORS. 

him  a  letter,  he  started.  He  used  a  cup  of  his  own 
to  avoid  the  contagion  which  might  lurk  in  a  glass 
at  a  public  table.  He  labelled  his  valuables  with 
deceptive  names,  and  wrote  his  business  memoranda 
in  Greek.  As  we  have  seen,  he  was  not  bellicose. 
Only  once  in  his  life  is  it  recorded  that  he  struck  a 
blow,  and  that  was  at  a  woman.  Finding  an  ac- 
quaintance of  his  landlady  presumptuous  enough  to 
hold  a  coffee-party  in  his  anteroom,  Schopenhauer 
knocked  her  down  with  such  violence  that  her  right 
arm  was  permanently  disabled.  Any  other  man, 
who  had  committed  an  act  of  similar  brutality  in 
a  moment  of  passion,  would  probably  have  hastened 
to  offer  some  compensation  to  his  victim;  but  our 
philosopher,  on  the  contrary,  hotly  contested  the 
poor  woman's  suit  for  legal  redress,  and  quitted  the 
town  in  disgust  when  he  found  himself  compelled  to 
maintain  her  for  life, —  a  period  which  (the  non- 
sympathetic  reader  will  rejoice  to  learn)  was  ex- 
tremely prolonged.  The  writer  of  an  exceedingly 
able  and  thoughtful  review  of  Schopenhauer's  phi- 
losophy in  the  Contemporary  Review,  some  years  ago, 
observed  that  his  unamiable  traits  are  best  excused 
by  his  own  candid  avowal  that  he  liked  his  own 
mental  physiognomy  well  enough,  but  his  moral  not 
at  all.  The  unalterableness  of  the  natural  character 
was  one  of  his  favorite  dogmas.  Certainly,  the  self- 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.      109 

training  by  which  many  a  naturally  nervous  temper- 
ament has  disciplined  itself  into  courage,  a  selfish 
one  into  generosity,  and  a  morose  or  peevish  temper 
into  gentleness,  was  as  far  as  possible  from  Schopen- 
hauer's plan  of  life;  and  it  opens  to  us  a  rather 
alarming  idea  of  the  society  of  the  future,  if  his 
followers  generally  should  resolve  to  adopt  his  facile 
principle,  and  assume  that  their  "natural  charac- 
ters," whatever  they  may  chance  to  be, —  selfish, 
false,  dissolute,  or  cruel, —  are  "unalterable."  Such 
liberty,  however,  is  probably  reserved  for  those  who 
may  claim  to  be  "  men  of  genius  "  like  their  master, 
since  he  absolved  himself  from  the  ordinary  duties 
incumbent  on  meaner  mortals  by  the  help  of  a 
theory  which  we  may  call  the  Philosopher's  Anti- 
nomianism.  "He  weighed  his  duties  toward  the 
world,"  we  are  told,  "in  the  balance  with  the  weight 
and  intensity  of  his  natural  gifts,  and  he  came  to 
the  conclusion  that  a  man  gifted  with  genius,  by 
merely  being  and  working,  sacrifices  himself  for  all 
mankind:  therefore,  he  is  free  from  the  obligation 
of  sacrificing  himself  in  particular  individually.  On 
this  account,  he  may  ignore  claims  which  others  are 
bound  to  fulfil."  * 

But  the  third  "  note  "  was,  I  venture  to  think, 
the  true  key  of  Schopenhauer's  character.  It  was 
ARROGANCE.  The  philosophers  whom  the  world 


110     PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

has  hitherto  honored  have  been  generally  noted  for 
the  opposite  quality.  As  saints  learn  humility  by 
gazing  up  at  infinite  holiness  above  them,  so  sages 
acquire  modesty  by  looking  out  on  the  boundless 
ocean  of  truth,  beside  which  their  greatest  discov- 
eries appear  but  as  the  pebbles  which  the  child 
gathers  by  the  shore.  But  the  philosophers  who  are 
so  good  as  to  enlighten  us  in  these  days  scarcely 
belong  to  the  antiquated  type  of  either  a  Socrates  or 
a  Newton.  The  pride  and  conceit  of  Arthur  Scho- 
penhauer, at  all  events,  commenced  in  boyhood,  and 
seems  to  have  grown  like  a  snowball  till  he  died  of 
old  age.  His  mother  (described  as  a  woman  of 
"  modest,  pleasing  manners  "  and  amiable  character, 
who  received  habitually  in  her  house  such  men  as 
Goethe,  the  Schlegels,  Grimm,  and  Wieland)  depicts 
him  thus,  when  a  lad  yet  engaged  in  collegiate 
studies :  "  Your  ill-humor,  your  complaints  of  things 
inevitable,  your  sullen  looks,  the  extraordinary  opin- 
ions you  utter  like  oracles  which  none  may  presume 
to  contradict, —  all  this  depresses  me.  Your  eternal 
quibbles,  your  laments  over  the  stupid  world  and 
human  misery,  give  me  bad  nights  and  unpleasant 
dreams."*  This  little  preliminary  glance  at  the 
youth  of  twenty  enables  us  to  judge  what  value 
should  be  attached  to  the  plea  urged  on  his  behalf, 
that  his  arrogance  and  bitterness  were  but  the 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PBOFESSOES.     Ill 

natural  results  of  the  neglect  with  which  his  great 
book  was  received  by  an  unappreciative  public  and 
a  jealous  coterie  of  offended •  philosophers,  the  "nec- 
essary armor  of  scorn  and  self-defence"  which 
enabled  him  to  hold  his  ground.  The  boy  at  col- 
lege, it  seems,  long  before  he  had  written  a  work  to 
instruct  the  world,  or  had  experienced  anything  but 
kindness  and  prosperity,  the  healthy,  rich,  gifted, 
and  independent  young  lad,  was  already  habitually 
"lamenting  over  the  stupid  world  and  human 
misery,"  and  uttering,  with  "  sullen  looks,"  "  oracles 
which  none  may  presume  to  contradict." 

As  he  grew  older,  Schopenhauer  learned  to 
express  his  good  opinion  of  himself  and  his  works 
with  serenest  equanimity.  No  more  naif  expres- 
sions of  self-complacency  have  perhaps  ever  been 
penned  than  this  gentleman's  eulogiums  on  his  own 
productions ;  as,  for  example,  when  he  writes  to  the 
publisher  of  his  work  that  its  "worth  and  impor- 
tance are  so  great  that  I  do  not  venture  to  express  it 
even  toward  you,  because  you  could  not  believe 
me,"  and  proceeds  to  quote  a  review  "  which  speaks 
of  me  with  the  highest  praise,  and  says  that  I  am 
plainly  the  greatest  philosopher  of  the  age,  which  is 
really  saying  much  less  than  the  good  man  thinks." 
"  Sir,"  he  said  to  an  unoffending  stranger  who 
watched  him  across  a  table  d'hdte  (where  he  habit- 


112      PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS   PROFESSORS. 

ually  acted  the  part  of  local  "  lion  "),  "  sir,  you  are 
astonished  at  my  appetite.  True,  I  eat  three  times 
as  much  as  you,  but,  then,  /  have  three  times  as  much 
mind!"  (p.  159.)  The  reader  who  thinks  that  this 
speech  could  never  have  been  spoken  except  in  jest 
and  to  produce  a  good-humored  laugh  has  not  yet 
studied  Schopenhauer's  saturnine  temperament,  to 
which  a  joke  at  his  own  expense  must  have  been 
quite  inconceivable.  To  others,  perhaps,  such  bar- 
barous intellectual  insolence  may  seem  a  pardonable 
reaction  from  the  tone  of  self-depreciation  (often 
exceedingly  insincere)  which  modern  manners  have 
enforced.  But  the  old  classic  pride  was  a  very 
different  thing  from  Schopenhauer's  aggressive  arro- 
gance, wherewith  he  managed  to  blend  gross  and 
egregious  vanity  in  quite  a  novel  combination.  On 
a  les  dtfauts  de  ses  qualit£s,  but  not  usiially  together 
two  apparently  contradictory  defects.  In  our  sim- 
plicity, we  should  have  anticipated  that  the  man 
who  considered  himself  the  greatest  philosopher  of 
his  age,  and  talked  about  the  "  loneliness  of  the 
heights"  of  intellectual  grandeur,  would  have  dis- 
dained to  trouble  himself  about  such  miserable 
things  as  common  newspaper  reviews.  We  should 
have  been,  however,  much  mistaken  in  such  a  guess. 
"  Schopenhauer  (we  are  told)  began  to  read  German 
newspapers,  now  that  they  wrote  about  him.  He 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PKOFESSORS.      113 

caused  the  veriest  trifle  that  contained  his  name  to 
be  sent  to  him.  He  looked  through  all  philosophical 
works  for  a  mention  of  himself.  His  intense  con- 
tempt for  women  wavered,  when  he  saw  they  could 
feel  interest  in  his  works."  What  would  Aristotle's 
"  Magnanimous  Man "  have  said  to  this  kind  of 
littleness  ?  "  Honor,  from  any  other  person  "  (than 
the  good),  "  or  on  the  score  of  trifles,  he  will  utterly 
despise,  and  likewise  he  will  despise  dishonor."  * 

Let  it  be  remembered,  too,  that  this  was  in 
Schopenhauer's  old  age.  For  a  young  author  to  be 
nervously  excited  about  the  reception  of  his  works 
is  nothing  blameworthy  or  ridiculous.  He  is  looking 
for  the  confirmation  of  the  yet  uncertain  whispers 
of  his  own  consciousness  of  ability,  or  to  the  extinc- 
tion of  his  hopes.  But  this  exculpation  cannot 
apply  to  a  man  advanced  in  life  and  of  established 
literary  reputation,  whose  opinion  of  his  own  exalted 
gifts  had  been  fully  expanded  while  he  was  yet  a  lad 
at  college. 

Is  it  too  much  to  say  that  in  this  inordinate 
opinion  of  his  own  powers  and  merits  lies  the  secret 
of  this  man's  Pessimism,  of  his  contempt  of  other 
men,  of  his  discontent  with  life,  of  his  revolt  against 
Providence  ?  It  is  not  wonderful  that  a  man  who 
looks  on  his  fellows  like  Apollo  Belvidere,  slaying 
them  with  the  arrows  of  his  scorn,  should  find  them 

*  Ethics,  Book  IV.,  chap.  ill. 


114     PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

wretched  and  unlovable;  for  no  man,  however 
humble,  is  ever  truly  seen  by  him  who  looks  down 
on  him,  and  thus  lacks  all  the  insight  of  love  and 
sympathy,  and  all  the  charity  of  one  who  forgives 
as  he  hopes  to  be  forgiven.  It  is  not  wonderful  that 
a  man  who  estimates  himself  as  supremely  wise,  and 
condones  his  own  faults  on  the  score  of  the  unalter- 
ableness  of  natural  character,  should  survey  the 
world  and  find  it  a  godless  desert.  Probably  no 
human  heart  ever  yet  bloomed  out  into  gratitude 
even  under  the  brightest  sunshine  of  prosperity, 
which  had  not  once  been  ploughed  up  by  self- 
reproach  and  softened  by  tears  of  repentance.  In 
truth,  any  kind  of  religious  sense  is  well-nigh 
incompatible  with  such  pride  as  we  are  discussing. 
The  doors  whereby  other  men  enter  the  Temple, — 
the  tender  guidance  of  human  affection,  the  awful 
strife  of  the  higher  self  against  passion  and  sin,  the 
sacred  moral  ambition  after  yet  unattained  purity 
and  goodness, —  all  these  are  closed  to  him.  Scho- 
penhauer's religious  history  is  a  confirmation  of  the 
truth  that  it  is  not  the  marble-palace  mind  of  the 
philosopher  which  God  will  visit  so  often  as  the 
humble  heart  which  lies  sheltered  from  the  storms  of 
passion,  and  all  trailed  over  by  the  sweet  blossoms 
of  human  affections. 

It  is   actually  ludicrous   to   compare   this  man's 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.     115 

intensely  selfish,  vain,  cowardly  character  with  the 
magnificent  compliments  which  he  paid  to  virtue  in 
the  abstract,  and  to  the  ideal  he  draws  of  the  perfect 
man,  or  "  ascetic,"  in  whom  the  very  sense  of  indi- 
viduality, not  to  speak  of  self-regard,  is  annihilated : 
"  He  will  no  longer  regard  himself  as  a  real  exist- 
ence, comprised  within  the  rigid  line  of  personality, 
and  thus  insulated  and  differentiated  from  the  rest 
of  the  universe.  He  will  regard  his  separate  being 
as  a  mere  transitory  phenomenon,  a  temporary  ob- 
jectivation  of  the  sole  real  existence ;  and  this  recog- 
nition of  his  true  position  must  necessarily  destroy 
selfishness.  .  .  .  When  a  man  ceases  to  draw  an  ego- 
tistic distinction  between  himself  and  others,  and 
takes  as  much  part  in  their  sorrows  as  in  his  own, 
it  naturally  follows  that  such  a  one,  recognizing  his 
own  self  in  all  beings,  must  regard  the  endless  griefs 
of  all  beings  as  his  own,  and  thus  appropriate  to 
himself  the  sorrows  of  the  whole  world."  *  The 
modern  "  Man  of  Sorrows  "  (if  we  may  venture  on 
so  irreverent  a  comparison  for  the  sake  of  the  con- 
trast) had,  for  his  own  use,  an  easy  method  of 
"appropriating"  the  griefs  of  his  kind.  "We 
gather,"  says  his  keen-sighted  critic  of  the  Contem- 
porary Review,  "from  the  accounts  of  his  disciples, 
that  he  had  arranged  for  himself  an  existence  more 
than  tolerable ;  for,  while  free  from  positive  annoy- 

*  LV«,  p.  208. 


116     PESSIMISM,    AND   ONE   OF   ITS   PROFESSORS. 

ance,  he  found  a  perfectly  consistent  and  legitimate 
source  of  pleasure  in  the  disinterested  contemplation 
of  the  idea  of  the  world's  sorrows."  *  A  more  easy 
form  of  martyrdom  it  is  hard  to  imagine. 

Is  it  not  somewhat  surprising  that  a  man  like  this, 
who,  to  do  him  justice,  made  no  pretence  of  prac- 
tising what  he  taught,  but  said  openly,  with  cynical 
effrontery,  "  I  preach  sanctity,  but  I  am  no  saint,"  f 
should  have  exercised  any  influence  over  his  genera- 
tion? We  read,  however,  that  "his  little  band  of 
disciples  grew,  and  their  fanaticism  reached  a  lu- 
dicrous point.  One  entreated  him  to  found  a  trust 
for  the  purpose  of  keeping  watch  that  no  syllable 
of  his  works  should  ever  be  altered;  another  had 
his  portrait  painted  and  placed  in  a  room  like  a 
chapel,"  $  etc. 

This  particular  hero-worship  is,  to  my  thinking,  so 
portentous  that  I  have  been  tempted  thus  to  study 
it  at  some  length.  For  thousands  of  years,  the 
human  race  has  gone  on  adding  one  noble  type  to 
another  in  its  Pantheon, —  the  old  heathen  patriotism 
and  heroism  of  a  Theseus,  a  Codrus,  a  Curtius,  a 
Regulus,  the  modest  wisdom  of  a  Socrates,  and  the 
stoic  grandeur  of  a  Marcus  Aurelius.  Christianity 
added  yet  saintlier  virtues  to  the  ideal, — the  charity, 
the  puritjr,  the  religious  fervor,  and  martyr  devotion 
of  a  whole  army  of  saints.  Yet  all  these  "  stars  of 

•  Contemporary  Review,  February,  1873.        t  We>  P- 108-        *  W*t  P-  240* 


PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PEOFESSOES.      117 

our  mortal  night "  can,  it  seems,  be  obscured  and 
forgotten ;  and  men  who  might  have  known  and 
honored  and  followed  them,  like  the  Magi  of  old, 
prefer  to  dance  after  such  a  flaring  link-light  as 
Schopenhauer  lifted  over  his  own  head !  Observing 
this,  and  how  his  desolate  doctrine  is  gaining  ground, 
and  recognizing  not  a  few  of  his  personal  charac- 
teristics (more  especially  his  arrogance)  among  other 
thinkers  nearer  home,  we  are  tempted  to  turn  back 
fondly  and  regretfully  to  the  humblest  old-fashioned 
goodness.  Many  of  us  had  confidently  trusted  that, 
when  knowledge  increased,  wisdom  and  love  would 
grow  along  with  it ;  that,  without  losing  the  sacred 
lessons  of  the  past,  mankind  would  obtain  still  deeper 
insight  into  moral  truth,  and  that  phases  of  char- 
acter would  appear  more  beautiful,  more  joyous, 
more  perfectly  rounded  in  all  the  gifts  and  graces 
of  humanity  than  the  world  yet  has  seen, —  the  long- 
severed  virtues  of  the  hero  and  the  saint  combined 
at  last. 

Alas !  if  Schopenhauers  are  to  increase  and  mul- 
tiply among  us,  these  hopes  have  been  visionary, 
indeed !  As  his  character  emerges  from  his  biogra- 
phy, and  stands  clearly  revealed  to  sight,  memories 
of  many  a  man  and  woman  of  small  account  in  the 
world  rise  up  and  range  themselves  in  our  thoughts 
for  comparison  opposite  to  this  great  philosopher. 


118     PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF  ITS   PROFESSORS. 

We  remember  those  who,  instead  of  flying  from  the 
terrors  of  pestilence  or  war,  have  freely  gone  to 
meet  them  at  the  call  of  benevolence  or  patriotism. 
We  remember  those  who,  instead  of  finding  their 
fellow-men  "despicable,"  have  been  lifelong  loving 
friends,  faithful  and  tender  husbands,  devoted 
parents  and  children,  ardent  philanthropists,  sacrific- 
ing wealth  and  health  and  every  enjoyment  that 
they  might  relieve  and  bless  the  most  miserable  of 
mankind, —  the  criminal,  the  diseased,  the  vicious, 
and  abandoned.  We  remember  those  who,  instead 
of  resting  self-satisfied  with  the  "  unalterableness " 
of  their  own  moral  defects,  have  striven  day  and 
night,  like  the  Pilgrim  fighting  on  his  knees  against 
>,Apollyon,  to  purify  their  hearts  of  every  stain,  and, 
instead  of  arraigning  Providence  because  their 
merits  were  insufficiently  rewarded,  have  blessed 
God  most  of  all  for  their  afflictions.  We  remember 
all  these,  and  also  we  remember  the  glory  of  peace 
and  patience  on  their  pain-worn  faces ;  and  from  the 
depths  of  our  souls  comes  the  verdict  that  the 
dullest  "  Philistine "  of  them  all  was,  in  the  scale 
of  true  nobleness,  worth  a  thousand  pessimist  phi- 
losophers. 

Schopenhauer  was,  in  truth,  the  best  illustration 
which  could  be  found  of  the  fallacy  of  the  modern 
intellect-worship,  the  idolatry  of  mere  mental  force, 


PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE  OF  ITS  PKOFESSOES.     119 

which  is  scarcely  less  stupid  and  ignoble  than  the 
idolatry  of  the  physical  force  of  winds  or  waters. 
As  baseness  is  more  contemptible  in  a  king,  and 
miserliness  in  a  millionnaire,  so  are  all  moral  faults 
and  littlenesses  only  more  despicable  when  set  on 
the  pedestal  of  genius.  There  are  minds  —  and 
Schopenhauer's  was  one  of  them  —  whose  brilliancy 
is  that  of  a  light-house.  Its  best  use  is  to  disclose 
the  cold  and  troubled  sea,  and  the  dreary  rocks 
whereon  the  unwary  might  make  shipwreck. 

The  question,  "  How  far  is  Pessimism  true,  and 
how  far  does  the  actual  state  of  the  world  justify 
us  in  pronouncing  life  to  be  an  evil?"  is  far  too 
vast  and  too  solemn  to  be  treated  in  this  brief  paper. 
One  remark  only  must  be  made  in  abatement  of  the 
wide-sweeping  denunciations  of  the  present  order  of 
things  in  which  Pessimists  habitually  indulge.  If 
we  take  count  of  their  arguments,  we  shall  find  that 
at  least  one-third  are  built  on  the  assumption  (which 
nothing  in  genuine  philosophy  warrants)  that  the 
"  hypothesis  of  a  God  "  involves  the  attribution  to 
him  not  only  of  supreme  but  of  absolute  power,  and 
generally  of  a  power  which  includes  self-contradic- 
tions. We  should  sweep  away  no  inconsiderable 
number  of  difficulties,  if  we  could  get  fairly  out  of 
reach  of  this  ever-recurring  fallacy,  and  hear  no 


120      PESSIMISM,   AND  ONE  OF   ITS   PROFESSORS. 

more  that  God  ought  to  make  every  creature  abso- 
lutely happy,  and  also  absolutely  virtuous:  and 
illume  the  martyr's  glory,  while  invariably  extin- 
guishing the  martyr's  pile.  And,  again,  another 
third  of  the  arguments  of  Pessimists  rests  on  the 
yet  more  egregious  and  fundamental  mistake  that 
suffering  is  always  to  be  accounted  an  evil,  and  may 
be  lawfully  weighed  by  them  as  such  in  holding  the 
scales  of  the  world.  The  truth  that  it  is  "good  to 
have  been  afflicted,"  that  out  of  pain  and  grief  and 
disappointment  arise  the  purest  virtues,  the  tenderest 
sympathies,  the  loftiest  courage,  the  divinest  faith, — 
this  thrice-blessed  truth,  the  very  alphabet  of  spir- 
itual experience,  is,  as  a  rule,  quite  overlooked  by 
great  philosophers  of  the  order  of  Schopenhauer. 

When  all  corrections  and  deductions  are  made,  a 
residue  of  profound,  awful,  inexplicable  misery  — 
misery  of  sinful  man  and  misery  of  sinless  brutes  — 
remains,  alas !  to  form,  doubtless,  in  time  to  come, 
as  in  the  ages  which  are  past,  the  dread  "  Riddle  of 
the  painful  Earth."  We  must  expect  it  to  press 
upon  us  ever  more  and  more  in  proportion  as  our 
sense  of  justice  and  love  rises  higher,  and  our  sym- 
pathies with  unmerited  suffering  grow  more  acute. 
Whether  the  shadow  which  that  mystery  casts  on 
religion  will  hereafter  be  in  any  degree  relieved  by 
fresh  lights  obtained  through  sounder  theories  of 


PESSIMISM,  AND  ONE  OF  ITS  PROFESSORS.     121 

Nature,  it  were  idle  to  guess.  One  thing  seems 
clear  enough;  namely,  that  the  spirit  wherewith 
some  modern  Pessimists  approach  the  tremendous 
problem  is  one  which  can  never  lead  to  its  solution, 
and  which  in  itself  is  calculated  to  form  no  incon- 
siderable addition  to  the  gloom  of  human  existence. 
The  world,  to  all  who  enter  it,  is  very  much  what 
their  anticipations  make  of  it, —  full  of  matter  for 
joy  and  gratitude,  or  for  repining  and  discontent. 
It  appears  beautiful  or  dreary,  according  as  they 
regard  it  through  the  cloudless,  childlike  eyes  of 
cheerful  trust  or  through  the  dim  and  distorting 
spectacles  of  doubt  and  despair.  No  generation  so 
miserable  has  yet  seen  the  light  as  one  which  should 
be  trained  to  expect  neither  justice  nor  love  from 
God,  and  to  "  cultivate  a  connected  view  of  the 
general  despicability  of  mankind." 

After  all,  as  Schopenhauer  himself  confessed 
(though  he  cared  so  little  to  practise  the  lesson), 
character  —  or,  as  Mr.  Matthew  Arnold  would  say, 
conduct — is  the  great  matter  to  which  all  theories 
are  subordinate.  "Moral  goodness  belongs  to  an 
order  of  things  which  is  above  this  life,  and  is  in- 
commensurable with  any  other  perfection."  There 
is  a  certain  value  in  the  old  test  whereby  a  tree  is 
known  by  its  fruits.  To  such  of  us  as  have  kept 
any  foundations  of  faith  still  standing,  the  pre- 


122     PESSIMISM,   AND   ONE   OF  ITS  PROFESSORS. 

sumption  is  surely  enormous  that  the  intellectual 
system  which  naturally  produces  courage,  trustful- 
ness, and  loving-kindness,  must  be  nearer  to  the 
Eternal  Verities  than  the  blighting  theory  which 
brings  forth  such  thorns  and  thistles  as  deformed 
the  character  of  the  great  Pessimist  Philosopher  of 
the  nineteenth  century. 


ZOOPHILY. 


ZOOPHI1T. 


IT  is  a  comforting  reflection  in  a  world  still  "  full 
of  violence  and  cruel  habitations  "  that  the  behavior 
of  men  to  domestic  animals  must  have  been,  on  the 
whole,  more  kind  than  the  reverse.  Had  it  been 
otherwise,  the  "  set "  of  the  brute's  brains,  according 
to  modern  theory,  would  have  been  that  of  shyness 
and  dread  of  us,  such  as  is  actually  exhibited  by  the 
rabbit  which  we  chase  in  the  field  and  the  rat  we 
pursue  in  the  cupboard.  In  countries  where  cats 
are  exceptionally  ill-treated  (e.g.,  the  south  of 
France),  poor  puss  is  almost  as  timid  as  a  hare; 
while  the  devotion  and  trustfulness  of  the  dog 
toward  man  in  every  land  peopled  by  an  Aryan 
race  seem  to  prove  that,  with  all  our  faults,  he  has 
not  found  us  such  bad  masters  after  all.  Dogs  love 
us,  and  could  only  love  us,  because  we  have  be- 
stowed on  them  some  crumbs  of  love  and  good-will, 
though  their  generous  little  hearts  have  repaid  the 
debt  a  thousand-fold.  The  "Shepherd's  Chief 
Mourner  "  and  "  Grey  Friar's  Bobby  "  had  probably 


126  ZOOPHILY. 

received  in  their  time  only  a  few  pats  from  the 
horny  hands  of  their  masters,  and  a  gruff  word  of 
approval  when  the  sheep  had  been  particularly 
cleverly  folded.  But  they  recognized  that  the  su- 
perior being  condescended  to  care  for  them,  and 
their  adoring  fidelity  was  the  ready  response.* 

Two  different  motives  of  course  have  influenced 
men  to  such  kindness  to  domestic  animals,  one  being 
obvious  self-interest,  and  the  necessity,  if  they 
needed  the  creature's  services,  to  keep  it  in  some 
degree  of  health  and  comfort;  and  the  other  being 
the  special  affection  of  individual  men  for  favorite 
animals.  Of  the  frequent  manifestation  of  this 
latter  sentiment  in  all  ages,  literature  and  art  bear 
repeated  testimony.  We  find  it  in  the  parable  of 
Nathan;  in  the  pictured  tame  lion  running  beside 
the  chariot  of  Rameses;  in  the  story  of  Argus  in  the 
Odyssey ;  in  the  episode  in  the  Mahabharata,  where 
the  hero  refuses  to  ascend  to  heaven  in  the  car  of 
Indra  without  his  dog ;  in  the  exquisite  passage  in 
the  Zend-Avesta,  where  the  lord  of  good  speaks  to 
Zoroaster,  "For  I  have  made  the  dog,  I  who  am 


*  A  touching  story  of  such  sheep-gathering  was  recently  told  me  on 
good  authority.  A  shepherd  lost  his  large  flock  on  the  Scotch  mountains 
in  a  fog.  After  fruitless  search,  he  returned  to  his  cottage,  bidding  his 
collie  find  the  sheep,  if  she  could.  The  collie,  who  was  near  giving  birth 
to  her  young,  understood  his  orders,  and  disappeared  in  the  mist,  not 
returning  for  many  hours.  At  last,  she  came  home  in  miserable  plight, 


ZOOPHILY.  127 

Ahura  Mazda " ;  in  the  history  of  Alexander's  hero, 
Bucephalus;  in  Pliny's  charming  tales  of  the  boy 
and  the  pet  dolphin,  and  of  the  poor  slave  thrown 
down  the  Gemonian  stairs,  beside  whose  corpse  his 
dog  watched  and  wailed  till  even  the  stern  hearts  of 
the  Roman  populace  were  melted  to  pity. 

But  neither  the  every-day  self-interested  care  of 
animals  by  their  masters,  nor  the  occasional  genuine 
affection  of  special  men  to  favorite  animals, —  which 
have  together  produced  the  actual  tameness  most  of 
the  domesticated  tribes  now  exhibit, —  seems  to  have 
led  men  to  the  acknowledgment  of  moral  obligation 
on  their  part  toward  the  brutes.  As  a  lady  will 
finger  lovingly  a  bunch  of  flowers,  and  the  next 
moment  drop  it  carelessly  on  the  roadside  or  pluck 
the  blossoms  to  pieces  in  sheer  thoughtlessness,  so 
the  great  majority  of  mankind  have  always  treated 
animals. 

"  We  tread  them  to  death,  and  a  troop  of  them  dies 
Without  our  regard  or  concern," 

cheerfully  remarked  Dr.  Watts  concerning  ants; 
but  he  might  have  said  the  same  of  our  "uncon- 

driving  before  her  the  last  stray  sheep,  and  carrying  in  her  mouth  a  puppy 
of  her  own  !  She  had  of  necessity  left  the  rest  of  her  litter  to  perish  on 
the  hill?  and  in  the  intervals  of  their  birth  the  poor  beast  had  performed 
her  tasl  and  driven  home  the  sheep.  Her  last  puppy  only  she  had  con- 
trived to  save. 


128  ZOOPHTLY. 

cern"  in  the  case  of  the  cruel  destruction  of  thou- 
sands of  harmless  birds  and  beasts  and  the  starvation 
of  their  young,  and  of  the  all  but  universal  reck- 
lessness of  men  in  dealing  with  creatures  not  rep- 
resenting value  in  money. 

It  is  not,  however,  to  be  reckoned  as  surprising 
that  our  forefathers  did  not  dream  of  such  a  thing 
as  duty  to  animals.  They  learned  very  slowly  that 
they  owed  duties  to  men  of  other  races  than  their 
own.  Only  on  the  generation  which  recognized 
thoroughly  for  the  first  time  (thanks  in  great  meas- 
ure to  Wilberforce  and  Clarkson)  that  the  negro 
was  "  a  man  and  a  brother "  did  it  dawn  that,  be- 
yond the  negro,  there  were  other  still  humbler 
claimants  for  benevolence  and  justice.  Within  a 
few  years  passed  both  the  emancipation  of  the  West 
Indian  slaves  and  that  first  act  for  prevention  of 
cruelty  to  animals  of  which  Lord  Erskine  so  truly 
prophesied  that  it  would  prove,  "  not  only  an  honor 
to  the  Parliament  of  England,  but  an  era  in  the 
civilization  of  the  world." 

But  the  noble  law  of  England  —  which  thus  fore- 
stalled the  moralists  and  set  an  example  which  every 
civilized  nation,  with  one  solitary  exception,  has  fol- 
lowed —  remains  even  to  this  day,  after  sixty  years, 
still  in  advance  of  the  systematic  teachers  of  human 
duty.  Even  while  every  year  sermons  specially  in- 


ZOOPHILT.  129 

culcafcing  humanity  to  animals  are  preached  all  over 
the  kingdom,  nobody  (so  far  as  the  present  writer 
is  aware)  has  attempted  formally  to  include  Duty 
to  the  Lower  Animals  in  any  complete  system  of 
ethics  as  an  organic  part  of  the  Whole  Duty  of 
Man.* 

Without  pretending  for  a  moment  to  fill  up  this 
gap  in  ethics,  I  would  fain  offer  to  those  who  are 
interested  in  the  subject  a  suggestion  which  may 
possibly  serve  as  a  scaffolding  till  the  solid  edifice 
be  built  by  stronger  hands.  We  must  perchance  yet 
wait  to  determine  what  are  the  right  actions  of  man 
to  brute;  but  I  do  not  think  we  need  lose  much 
time  in  deciding  what  must  be  the  right  sentiment, 
the  general  feeling  wherewith  it  is  fit  we  should 
regard  the  lower  animals.  If  we  can  but  clearly 
define  that  sentiment,  it  will  indicate  roughly  the 
actions  which  will  be  consonant  therewith. 

In  the  first  place,  it  seems  to  me  that  a  sense 
of  serious  responsibility  toward  the  brutes  ought  to 
replace  our  "lady-and-the-nosegay"  condition  of  in- 


*  The  best  effort  to  supply  the  missing  chapter  of  ethics  is  the  charm- 
ing and  eloquent  volume,  Eights  of  an  Animal,  by  E.  B.  Nicholson.  I 
thankfully  recognize  the  candor  wherewith  the  author  has  tackled  the 
difficult  problems  of  the  case,  and  the  value  of  his  demonstration  that  the 
law  of  England  assumes  the  fundamental  principle  that  cruelty  to  an 
animal  is  an  offence  per  se,  and  that  it  is  not  necessary  to  show  that  it 
injures  any  human  owner  or  spectator.  In  this  respect,  as  in  all  others, 


130  ZOOPHILY. 

souciance.  The  "ages  before  morality"  are  at  an 
end  at  last,  even  in  this  remote  province  of  human 
freedom.  Of  all  the  grotesque  ideas  which  have 
imposed  on  us  in  the  solemn  phraseology  of  divines 
and  moralists,  none  is  more  absurd  than  the  doc- 
trine that  our  moral  obligations  stop  short  where  the 
object  of  them  does  not  happen  to  know  them,  and 
assures  us  that,  because  the  brutes  cannot  call  us 
to  account  for  our  transgressions,  nothing  that  we 
can  do  will  constitute  a  transgression.  To  absolve 
us  from  paying  for  a  pair  of  boots  because  our  boot- 
maker's ledger  had  unluckily  been  burned  would  be 
altogether  a  parallel  lesson  in  morality.  It  is  plain 
enough,  indeed,  that  the  creature  who  is  (as  we 
assume)  without  a  conscience  or  moral  arbitrament 
must  always  be  exonerated  from  guilt,  no  matter 
what  it  may  do  of  hurt  or  evil;  and  the  judicial 
proceedings  against,  and  executions  of,  oxen  and 
pigs  in  the  Middle  Ages  for  manslaughter  were  un- 
speakably absurd.  But  not  less  absurd,  on  the  other 
side,  is  it  to  exonerate  men,  who  have  consciences 
and  free  will,  when  they  are  guilty  of  cruelty  to 

our  Act  (11  and  12  Viet.  c.  39)  immeasurably  transcends  the  French  Loi 
Grammont,  which  condemns  only  cruelty  exhibited  in  public  places  and 
painful  to  the  spectators.  Mr.  Nicholson  justifies  vivisection  only  so  far 
as  it  can  be  rendered  absolutely  painless  by  anaesthetics.  To  such  of  us  as 
have  seen  through  that  delusion,  cadit  quaestio. 


ZOOPHILY.  131 

brutes,  on  the  plea  not  that  they,  but  the  brutes  are 
immoral  and  irresponsible.* 

A  moral  being  is  not  moral  on  one  side  of  him 
only,  but  moral  all  round,  and  toward  all  who  are 
above,  beside,  and  beneath  him :  just  as  a  gentleman 
is  a  gentleman  not  only  to  the  king,  but  to  the  peas- 
ant; and  as  a  truthful  man  speaks  truth  to  friend 
and  stranger.  Just  in  the  same  way,  the  "  merciful 
man  is  merciful  to  his  beast,"  as  he  is  merciful  to 
the  beggar  at  his  gate.  I  may  add  that  every  noble 
quality  is  specially  tested  by  its  exhibition  in  those 
humbler  directions  wherein  there  is  nothing  to  be 
gained  by  showing  it  and  nothing  to  be  lost  by  con- 
trary behavior. 

There  is  a  passage  from  Jeremy  Bentham,  quoted 
in  Mrs.  Jamieson's  Commonplace  Book  and  else- 
where, which  will  recur  to  many  readers  at  this 
point :  "  The  day  may  come,"  he  says,  "  when  the 
rest  of  the  animal  creation  may  acquire  those  rights 
which  never  could  have  been  withheld  from  them 
but  by  the  hand  of  tyranny.  It  may  come  one  day 
to  be  recognized  that  the  number  of  legs,  the 
villosity  of  the  skin,  or  the  termination  of  the  os 


*  As  a  recent  example  of  this  doctrine,  see  an  article  in  the  Fortnightly 
Review  for  Feb.  1, 1882.  "  Is  it  not,"  the  author  says,  "  the  very  basis  of 
ethical  doctrine  (!)  that  the  moral  rights  of  any  being  depend  on  its  ethical 
nature?" 


132  ZOOPHTLY. 

sacrum,  are  reasons  insufficient  for  abandoning  a 
sensitive  being  to  the  caprice  of  a  tormentor.  .  .  . 
The  question  is  not,  Can  they  reason  ?  or  Can  they 
speak  ?  but,  Can  they  suffer  ?  " 

Long  before  Bentham,  a  greater  mind,  travelling 
along  a  nobler  road  of  philosophy,  laid  down  the 
canon  which  resolves  the  whole  question.  Bishop 
Butler  affirmed  that  it  was  on  the  simple  fact  of  a 
creature  being  SENTIENT  —  i.e.,  capable  of  pain  and 
pleasure  —  that  rests  our  responsibility  to  save  it 
pain  and  give  it  pleasure.  There  is  no  evading  this 
obligation,  then,  as  regards  the  lower  animals,  by  the 
plea  that  they  are  not  moral  beings.  It  is  our 
morality,  not  theirs,  which  is  in  question.  There  are 
special  considerations  which  in  different  cases  may 
modify  our  obligation,  but  it  is  on  such  special 
reasons,  not  on  the  universal  non-moral  nature  of 
the  brutes  (as  the  old  divines  taught),  that  our  exon- 
eration must  be  founded ;  and  the  onus  lies  on  us  to 
show  cause  for  each  of  them. 

The  distinction  between  our  duties  to  animals  and 
our  duties  to  our  human  fellow-creatures  lies  here. 
As  regards  them  both,  we  are  indeed  forbidden  to 
inflict  avoidable  pain,  because  both  alike  are  sentient. 
But,  as  regards  the  brutes,  our  duties  stop  there : 
whereas,  as  regards  men,  they  being  moral  as  well  as 
sentient  beings,  our  primary  obligations  toward  them 


ZOOPHILY.  133 

must  concern  their  higher  natures,  and  include  the 
preservation  of  the  lives  which  those  higher  natures 
invest  with  a  sanctity  exclusively  their  own.  Thus, 
we  reach  the  important  conclusion  that  the  infliction 
of  avoidable  pain  is  the  supreme  offence  as  regards 
the  lower  animals,  but  not  the  supreme  offence  as 
regards  man.  Sir  Henry  Taylor's  noble  lines  go  to 
the  very  root  of  the  question  :  — 

"Pain,  terror,  mortal  agonies,  which  scare 
Thy  heart  in  man,  to  brutes  thou  wilt  not  spare. 
Are  theirs  less  sad  and  real  ?    Pain  in  man 
Bears  the  high  mission  of  the  flail  and  fan  ; 
In  brutes,  'tis  purely  piteous." 

Pain  is  the  one  supreme  evil  of  the  existence  of 
the  lower  animals,  an  evil  which  (so  far  as  we  can 
see)  has  no  countervailing  good.  As  to  death,  a 
painless  one  —  so  far  from  being  the  supreme  evil  to 
them — is  often  the  truest  mercy.  Thus,  instead  of 
the  favorite  phrase  of  certain  physiologists,  that 
"  they  would  put  hecatombs  of  brutes  to  torture  to 
save  the  smallest  pain  of  a  man,"  true  ethics  bids  us 
regard  man's  moral  welfare  only  as  of  supreme  im- 
portance, and  anything  which  can  injure  it  (such, 
for  example,  as  the  practice,  or  sanction  of  the 
practice,  of  cruelty)  as  the  worst  of  evils,  even  if 
along  with  it  should  come  a  mitigation  of  bodily 
pain.  On  this  subject,  the  present  Bishop  of  Win- 


134  ZOOPHILY. 

Chester  has  put  the  case  in  a  nutshell.  "  It  is  true," 
he  said,  "  that  man  is  superior  to  the  beast,  but  the 
part  of  man  which  we  recognize  as  such  is  his  moral 
and  spiritual  nature.  So  far  as  his  body  and  its 
pains  are  concerned,  there  is  no  particular  reason 
for  considering  them  more  than  the  body  and  bodily 
pains  of  a  brute." 

Of  course,  the  ground  is  cut  from  under  us  in 
this  whole  line  of  argument  by  those  ingenious 
thinkers  who  have  recently  disinterred  (with  such 
ill-omened  timeliness  for  the  vivisection  debate) 
Descartes'  supposed  doctrine,  that  the  appearance 
of  pain  and  pleasure  in  the  brutes  is  a  mere  delu- 
sion, and  that  they  are  only  automata, —  "a  superior 
kind  of  marionettes,  which  eat  without  pleasure,  cry 
without  pain,  desire  nothing,  know  nothing,  and 
only  simulate  intelligence  as  a  bee  simulates  a  mathe- 
matician." If  this  conclusion,  on  which  modern 
science  is  to  be  congratulated,  be  accepted,  it  fol- 
lows, of  course,  that  we  should  give  no  more  consid- 
eration to  the  fatigue  of  a  noble  hunter  than  to  the 
creaking  wood  of  a  rocking-horse ;  and  that  the 
emotions  a  child  bestows  on  its  doll  will  be  more 
serious  than  those  we  bestow  on  a  dog  who  dies  of 
grief  on  his  master's  grave.  Should  it  appear  to 
us,  however,  on  the  contrary  (as  it  certainly  does 
to  me),  that  there  is  quite  as  good  evidence  that 


ZOOPHILY.  135 

dogs  and  elephants  reason  as  that  certain  physiol- 
ogists reason,  and  a  great  deal  better  evidence  that 
they  —  the  animals  —  feel,  we  may  perhaps  dismiss 
the  Cartesianism  of  the  nineteenth  century,  and 
proceed  without  further  delay  to  endeavor  to  define 
more  particularly  the  fitting  sentiment  of  man  to 
sentient  brutes.  We  have  seen  we  ought  to  start 
with  a  distinct  sense  of  some  degree  of  moral  respon- 
sibility as  regards  them.  What  shape  should  that 
sense  assume  ?  , 

We  have  been  in  the  habit  of  indulging  ourselves 
in  all  manner  of  antipathies  to  special  animals,  some 
of  them  having,  perhaps,  their  source  and  raison 
d'etre  in  the  days  of  our  remote  but  not  illustrious 
ancestors, 

"  When  wild  in  woods  the  noble  savage  ran" ; 

or  those  of  a  still  earlier  date,  who  were,  as  Mr. 
Darwin  says,  "  arboreal  in  their  habits,"  ere  yet  we 
had  deserved  the  reproach  of  having  "made  our- 
selves tailless  and  hairless  and  multiplied  folds  to 
our  brain."  Other  prejudices,  again,  are  mere  per- 
sonal  whims,  three-fourths  of  them  being  pure  affec- 
tation. A  man  will  decline  to  sit  in  a  room  with  an 
inoffensive  cat,  and  a  lady  screams  at  the  sight  of  a 
mouse,  which  is  infinitely  more  distressed  at  the 
rencontre  than  she.  I  have  known  an  individual, 
otherwise  distinguished  for  audacity,  "  make  tracks  " 


136  ZOOPHILY. 

across  several  fields  to  avoid  a  placidly  ruminating 
cow.  In  our  present  stage  of  civilization,  these  silly 
prejudices  are  barbarisms  and  anachronisms,  if  not 
vulgarisms,  and  should  be  treated  like  exhibitions  of 
ignorance  or  childishness.  For  our  remote  progeni- 
tors before  mentioned,  tusky  and  hirsute,  struggling 
for  existence  with  the  cave  bear  and  the  mammoth 
in  the  howling  wilderness  of  a  yet  uncultured  world, 
there  was  no  doubt  justification  for  regarding  the 
terrible  beasts  around  them  with  the  hatred  which 
comes  of  fear.  But  the  animal  creation,  at  least 
throughout  Europe,  has  been  subdued  for  ages ;  and 
all  its  tribes  are  merely  dwellers  by  sufferance  in  a 
vanquished  province.  Their  position  as  regards  us 
appeals  to  every  spark  of  generosity  alight  in  our 
bosoms,  and  ought  to  make  us  ashamed  of  our 
whims  and  antipathies  toward  beings  so  humble. 
Shall  man  arrogate  the  title  of  "lord  of  creation," 
and  not  show  himself,  at  the  least,  ban  prince  to 
his  poor  subjects  ?  It  is  not  too  much  to  ask  that, 
even  toward  wild  animals,  our  feelings  should  be 
those  of  royal  clemency  and  indulgence, —  of  pleas- 
ure in  the  beauty  and  grace  of  such  of  them  as  are 
beautiful;  of  admiration  for  their  numberless  won- 
drous instincts;  of  sympathy  with  their  delight  in 
the  joys  of  the  forest  and  the  fields  of  air.  Few,  I 
suppose,  of  men  with  any  impressionability  can 


ZOOPHILY.  137 

watch  a  lark  ascending  into  the  sky  of  a  summer's 
morning  without  some  dim  echo  of  the  feelings 
which  inspired  Shelley's  Ode.  This  is,  however, 
only  a  specially  vivid  instance  of  a  sympathy  which 
might  be  almost  universal,  and  which,  so  far  as  we 
learn  to  feel  it,  touches  all  nature  for  us  with  a 
magic  wand. 

If  we  are  compelled  to  fight  with  them,  if  they 
are  our  natural  enemies  and  can  never  be  anything 
else,  then  let  us  wage  war  upon  them  in  loyal  sort, 
as  we  contended  against  the  Russians  at  Balaklava ; 
and,  if  we  catch  any  prisoners,  deal  with  them  chiv- 
alrously or  at  least  mercifully.  This,  indeed  (to  do 
justice  to  sportsmen,  much  as  I  dislike  their  pur- 
suit), I  have  always  observed  to  be  the  spirit  of  the 
old-fashioned  country  gentleman,  before  the  gross 
slaughtering  of  battues  and  despicable  pigeon- 
matches  were  heard  of  in  the  land. 

As  to  domestic  animals,  their  demands  on  us,  did 
we  read  them  aright,  are  not  so  much  those  of  peti- 
tioners for  mercy  as  of  rightful  claimants  of  justice. 
We  have  caused  their  existence,  and  are  responsible 
that  they  should  be  on  the  whole  happy  and  not 
miserable.  We  take  their  services  to  carry  our  bur- 
dens, to  enhance  our  pleasures,  to  guard  our  homes 
and  our  flocks.  In  the  case  of  many  of  them,  we 
accept  the  fondest  fidelity  and  an  affection  such  as 


138  ZOOPHILY. 

human  beings  scarcely  give  once  in  a  lifetime. 
They  watch  for  us,  work  for  us,  bear  often  weary 
imprisonment  and  slavery  in  our  service,  and  not 
seldom  mourn  for  us  with  breaking  hearts  when  we 
die.  If  we  conceive  of  an  arbiter  sitting  by  and 
watching  alike  our  behavior  and  the  poor  brutes'  toil 
and  love,  can  we  suppose  he  would  treat  it  as  merely 
a  piece  of  generosity  on  our  part,  which  we  were 
free  to  leave  unfulfilled  without  blame,  that  we 
should  behave  considerately  to  such  an  humble 
friend,  supply  him  with  food,  water,  and  shelter,  for- 
bear to  overwork  him,  and  end  his  harmless  life  at 
last  with  the  least  possible  pain?  Would  he  not 
demand  it  of  us  as  the  simplest  matter  of  justice  ?  * 
For  those  who  accept  the  Darwinian  theory,  and 
believe  that  the  relationship  between  man  and  the 
brutes  is  not  only  one  of  similarity,  but  of  actual 
kinship  in  blood,  it  would  have  seemed  only  natural 
that  this  new  view  should  have  brought  forth  a  burst 
of  fresh  sympathy  and  tenderness.  If  our  physical 
frames,  with  all  their  quivering  nerves  and  suscepti- 
bilities to  a  thousand  pains,  be,  indeed,  only  the 

*I  have  endeavored  elsewhere  to  work  out  this  hypothesis  of  an 
umpire  between  man  and  brute,  as  a  method  of  helping  us  to  a  solution 
of  the  problem  of  what  are  and  what  are  not  lawful  actions  on  our  parts 
toward  animals.  The  reader  who  may  be  interested  in  the  inquiry  may 
obtain  my  pamphlet,  The  Right  of  Tormenting,  price  2d.,  at  the  office  of 
the  Society  for  the  Protection  of  Animals  from  Vivisection,  1  Victoria 
Street,  Westminster. 


ZOOPHILY.  139 

four-footed  creature's  body  a  little  modified  by  de- 
velopment ;  if  our  minds  only  overlap  and  transcend 
theirs,  but  are  grown  out  of  those  humbler  brains ; 
if  all  our  moral  qualities,  our  love  and  faith  and 
sense  of  justice,  be  only  their  affection  and  fidelity 
and  dim  sense  of  wrong  extended  into  wider  realms, 
—  then  we  bear  in  ourselves  the  irresistible  testi- 
mony to  their  claims  on  our  sympathy.  And  if, 
like  so  many  of  the  disciples  of  the  same  new  phi- 
losophy, we  are  unhappy  enough  to  believe  that  both 
man  and  brute  when  laid  in  the  grave  awake  no 
more,  then,  above  all,  it  would  seem  that  this  com- 
mon lot  of  a  few  pleasures  and  many  pains,  to  be 
followed  by  annihilation,  would  move  any  heart  to 
compassion.  In  the  great,  silent,  hollow  universe 
in  which  these  souls.,  believe  themselves  to  stand, 
how  base  does  it  seem  to  turn  on  the  weaker,  un- 
offending beings  around  them,  and  spoil  their  little 
gleam  of  life  and  joy  under  the  sun ! 

Nothing  is  more  startling  to  me  than  the  fact  that 
some  of  the  leading  apostles  of  this  philosophy,  and 
even  its  respected  author  himself,  should  in  one  and 
the  same  breath  tell  us  that  an  ape,  for  example,  is 
actually  our  own  flesh  and  blood,  and  that  it  is 
right  and  proper  to  treat  apes  after  the  fashion  of 
Professors  Munk  and  Goltz  and  Ferrier.  These 
gentlemen,  as  regards  the  poor  quadrumana,  are 


140  ZOOPHTLY. 

rather   "more    than    kin,"   and    rather    "less  than 
kind." 

For  those  who,  whether  they  believe  in  evolution 
or  not,  still  hold  faith  in  the  existence  of  a  divine 
Lord  of  man  and  brute,  the  reasons  for  sympa- 
thy are,  in  another  way,  still  stronger.  That  the 
Christian  religion  did  not,  from  the  first,  like  the 
Zoroastrian,  Buddhist,  and  Brahminist,  impress  its 
followers  with  the  duty  of  mercy  to  the  brutes ;  that 
it  was  left  to  a  few  tender-hearted  saints,  like  St. 
Francis,  to  connect  the  creatures  in  any  way  with 
the  worship  of  the  Creator,  and  to  the  later  devel- 
opment of  Protestantism  to  formulate  any  doctrine 
on  the  subject  of  duty  toward  them, —  is  a  paradox 
which  would  need  much  space  to  explain.  Modern 
religion,  at  all  events,  by  whatever  name  it  is  called, 
seems  tending  more  and  more  to  throw  an  addi- 
tional tender  sacredness  over  our  relations  to  the 
"unoffending  creatures  which  he,"  their  Maker, 
"  loves,"  and  to  make  us  recognize  a  latent  truth  in 
the  curiously  hackneyed  lines  of  Coleridge  concern- 
ing him  who  "prayeth  best"  and  also  loveth  best 
"both  man  and  bird  and  beast."  Where  that  great 
and  far-reaching  softener  of  hearts,  the  sense  of  our 
own  failures  and  offences,  is  vividly  present,  the 
position  we  hold  to  creatures  who  have  never  done 
wrong  is  always  found  inexpressibly  touching.  To 


ZOOPHILY.  141 

be  kind  to  them  and  rejoice  in  their  happiness  seems 
just  one  of  the  few  ways  in  which  we  can  act  a  god- 
like part  in  our  little  sphere,  and  display  the  mercy 
for  which  we  hope  in  our  turn.  Whichever  way  we 
take  it,  I  conceive  we  reach  the  same  conclusion. 
The  only  befitting  feeling  for  human  beings  to  en- 
tertain toward  brutes  is,  as  the  very  word  suggests, 
the  feeling  of  humanity :  or,  as  we  may  interpret  it, 
the  sentiment  of  sympathy,  so  far  as  we  can  culti- 
vate fellow-feeling ;  of  pity,  so  far  as  we  know  them 
to  suffer;  of  mercy,  so  far  as  we  can  spare  their 
sufferings ;  of  kindness  and  benevolence,  so  far  as  it 
is  in  our  power  to  make  them  happy. 

There  is  nothing  fanatical  about  this  humanity. 
It  does  not  call  on  us  to  renounce  any  of  the  usefu) 
or  needful  avocations  of  life  as  regards  animals,  but 
rather  would  it  make  the  man  imbued  with  it  per- 
form them  all  the  better.*  We  assuredly  need  not, 
because  we  become  humane,  sacrifice  the  higher  life 
for  the  lower,  as  in  the  wondrous  Buddhist  parable 
so  beautifully  rendered  in  the  Light  of  Asia,  where 
"Lord  Buddha,"  in  one  of  his  million  lives,  gives 

*In  fact,  many  men  who  pursue  such  trades,  notably  butchers,  are 
genuinely  humane,  and  do  their  best  to  get  through  their  work  in  the 
most  merciful  way.  Several  of  them  have  recently  expressed  warm  satis- 
faction on  obtaining  Baxter's  mask,  whereby  oxen  may  be  instantaneously 
killed  without  the  chance  of  a  misdirected  blow.  The  mask  is  to  be 
obtained  from  Mr.  Baxter,  Baling  Dean,  W. 


142  ZOOPHILY. 

himself,  out  of  pity,  to  be  devoured  by  a  famishing 
tiger  who  cannot  feed  her  cubs,  and 

"The  great  cat's  burning  breath 
Mixed  with  the  last  sigh  of  such  fearless  love." 

We  need  not  even  copy  the  sweet  lady  in  the 
"Sensitive  Plant"  who  made  the  bees  and  moths 
and  ephemeridse  her  attendants:  — 

"But  all  killing  insects  and  gnawing  worms, 
And  things  of  obscene  and  unlovely  forms, 
She  bore  in  a  basket  of  Indian  woof 
Into  the  rough  woods  far  aloof, — 

"  In  a  basket  of  grasses  and  wild  flowers  full, 
The  freshest  her  gentle  hands  could  pull 
For  the  poor  banished  insects,  whose  intent, 
Although  they  did  ill,  was  innocent." 

This  is  poetry  not  meant  for  practice,  and  yet 
even  these '  hyperboles  carry  a  breath  as  of  Eden 
along  with  them.  Of  Eden  did  I  say  ?  Nay,  rather 
of  the  later  Paradise  for  which  the  soul  of  the 
greatest  of  the  prophets  yearned,  where  "  they  shall 
not  hurt  nor  destroy  in  all  my  holy  mountain." 

I  will  not  attempt  here  to  define  how  the  senti- 
ment of  humanity  to  the  brutes,  thoroughly  in- 
grained into  a  man's  heart,  would  make  him  decide 
the  question  of  field  sports.  My  own  impression 
is  that  it  would  lead  him  to  abandon  first,  and  with 


ZOOPHTLY.  143 

utter  disgust,  such  wretched  amusements  as  pigeon- 
matches  and  battues  of  half-tame  pheasants;  and, 
later,  those  sports  in  which,  as  in  fox-hunting  and 
coursing  and  duck-shooting,  the  sympathy  of  the 
sportsman  with  his  hounds  and  horse,  or  his  grey- 
hound or  retriever,  is  uppermost  in  his  mind,  to  the 
exclusion  of  the  wild  and  scarcely  seen  object  of 
his  pursuit.  In  nine  kinds  of  such  sports,  I  believe, 
out  of  ten,  it  is  rather  a  case  of  ill-divided  sympathy 
for  animals  than  of  lack  of  it  which  inspires  the 
sportsman;  and  not  many  would  find  enjoyment 
where  neither  horse  nor  dog  had  part, —  like  poor 
Robertson,  of  Brighton,  sitting  for  hours  in  a  tub 
in  a  marsh  to  shoot  wild  duck,  and  counting  the 
period  so  spent  as  "  hours  of  delight ! " 

But  there  is  one  practice  respecting  which  the 
influence  of  such  a  sentiment  of  humanity  as  we 
have  supposed  must  have  an  unmistakable  result. 
It  must  put  an  absolute  stop  to  vivisection.  To 
accustom  ourselves  and  our  children  to  regard  ani- 
mals with  sympathy ;  to  beware  of  giving  them  pain, 
and  rejoice  when  it  is  possible  for  us  to  give  them 
pleasure;  to  study  their  marvellous  instincts,  and 
trace  the  dawnings  of  reason  in  their  sagacious  acts ; 
to  accept  their  services  and  their  affection,  and  give 
them  in  return  such  pledges  of  protection  as  our 
kind  words  and  caresses, —  to  do  this,  and  then 


144  ZOOPKLLY. 

calmly  consent  to  hand  them  over  to  be  dissected 
alive,  this  is  too  monstrous  to  be  borne.  De  deux 
choses  rune.  Either  we  must  cherish  animals — and 
then  we  must  abolish  vivisection  —  or  we  must 
sanction  vivisection;  and  then,  for  very  shame's 
sake,  and  lest  we  poison  the  springs  of  pity  and 
sympathy  in  our  breasts  and  the  breasts  of  our  chil- 
dren, we  must  renounce  the  ghastly  farce  of  petting 
or  protecting  animals,  and  pretending  to  recognize 
their  noble  and  lovable  qualities.  If  love  and  cour- 
age and  fidelity,  lodged  in  the  heart  of  a  dog,  have 
no  claim  on  us  to  prevent  us  from  dissecting  that 
heart  even  while  yet  it  beats  with  affection ;  if  the 
human-like  intelligence  working  in  a  monkey's  brain 
do  not  forbid  (but  rather  invite)  us  to  mutilate  that 
brain,  morsel  by  morsel,  till  the  last  glimmering  of 
mind  and  playfulness  die  out  in  dulness  and  death, — 
if  this  be  so,  then,  in  Heaven's  name,  let  us  at  least 
have  done  with  our  cant  of  "  humanity,"  and  abolish 
our  Acts  of  Parliament,  and  dissolve  our  Bands  of 
Mercy,  and  our  three  hundred  Societies  for  the  Pre- 
vention of  Cruelty  throughout  the  world. 

The  idea  of  vivisection  (to  use  the  phrase  of  its 
two  thousand  advocates  who  memorialized  Sir 
Richard  Cross)  rests  on  the  conception  of  an  ani- 
mal (a  dog,  for  example)  as  "  a  carnivorous  creature, 
valuable  for  purposes  of  research,"  —  a  mechanism, 


ZOOPHILY.  145 

in  short,  of  nerves  and  muscles,  bones  and  arteries, 
which,  as  they  added,  it  would  be  a  pity  to  "  with- 
draw from  investigation."  The  crass  materialism 
which  thus  regards  such  a  creature  as  a  dog  (and 
would,  doubtless,  if  its  followers  spoke  out,  be  found 
similarly  to  regard  a  man)  is  at  the  opposite  pole  of 
thought  and  feeling  from  the  recognition  of  the 
animal  in  its  higher  nature  as  an  object  of  our  ten- 
derness and  sympathy.  We  cannot  hold  both  views 
at  once.  If  we  take  the  higher  one,  the  lower  must 
become  abhorrent  in  our  eyes.  There  is,  there 
ought  to  be,  no  question  in  the  matter  of  a  little 
more  or  a  little  less  of  torture,  or  of  dispute  whether 
anaesthetics,  when  they  can  be  employed,  usually 
effect  complete  and  final  or  only  partial  and  tem- 
porary insensibility;  or  of  whether  such  processes 
as  putting  an  animal  into  a  stove  over  a  fire  till  it 
expires  in  ten  or  twenty  minutes  ought  to  be  called 
"baking  it  alive,"  or  described  by  some  less  dis- 
tressing and  homely  phraseology.  It  is  the  simple 
idea  of  dealing  with  a  living,  conscious,  sensitive, 
and  intelligent  creature  as  if  it  were  dead  and 
senseless  matter  against  which  the  whole  spirit  of 
true  humanity  revolts.  It  is  the  notion  of  such 
absolute  despotism  as  shall  justify  not  merely  taking 
life,  but  converting  the  entire  existence  of  the 
animal  into  a  misfortune,  which  we  denounce  as  a 


146  ZOOPHILY. 

brutal  misconception  of  the  relations  between  the 
higher  and  the  lower  creatures,  and  an  utter  anach- 
ronism in  the  present  stage  of  human  moral  feeling. 
A  hundred  years  ago,  had  physiologists  frankly 
avowed  that  they  recognized  no  claims  on  the  part 
of  the  brutes  which  should  stop  them  from  torturing 
them,  they  would  have  been  only  on  the  level  of 
their  contemporaries.  But  to-day  they  are  behind 
the  age;  ay,  sixty  years  behind  the  legislature  and 
the  poor  Irish  gentleman  who  "ruled  the  houseless 
wilds  of  Connemara,"  and  had  the  glory  of  giving 
his  name  to  Martin's  Act.  How  their  claim  for  a 
"  free  vivisecting  table  "  may  be  looked  back  upon 
a  century  to  come,  we  may  perhaps  foretell  with  no 
great  chance  of  error.  In  his  last  book,  published 
ten  years  ago,  Sir  Arthur  Helps  wrote  these  mem- 
orable words :  "It  appears  to  me  that  the  advance- 
ment of  the  world  is  to  be  measured  by  the  increase 
of  humanity  and  the  decrease  of  cruelty.  ...  I  am 
convinced  that,  if  an  historian  were  to  sum  the  gains 
and  losses  of  the  world  at  the  close  of  each  recorded 
century,  there  might  be  much  which  was  retrograde 
in  other  aspects  of  human  life  and  conduct,  but 
nothing  could  show  a  backward  course  in  humanity  " 
(pp.  195,  196).  As  I  have  said  ere  now,  the  battle 

of  mercy,  like  that  of  freedom 

"  Once  begun, 
Though  often  lost,  is  always  won." 


ZOOPHILY.  147 

Even  should  all  the  scientific  men  in  Europe  unite 
in  a  resolution  that  "  vivisection  is  necessary,"  just 
as  all  the  Dominicans  would  have  united  three 
hundred  years  ago  to  resolve  that  autos-da-fd  were 
"necessary,"  or  as  all  the  lawyers  and  magistrates 
that  the  peine  forte  et  dure  was  "  necessary,"  or  as 
the  statesmen  of  America  did  thirty  years  ago  that 
negro  slavery  was  "  necessary,"  yet  the  "  necessity  " 
will  disappear  in  the  case  of  the  scientific  torture  of 
animals  as  in  all  the  rest.  The  days  of  vivisection 
are  numbered. 


SACEIPICIAL  MEDICINE, 


SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 


THE  world  has  done  wrong  to  laugh  at  the  old 
lady  who  reproved  her  sailor  grandson  for  "  telling 
her  such  a  scandalous  fib  as  that  he  had  seen  a  fish 
fly  in  the  air,"  but  restored  her  confidence  to  the 
hopeful  youth  when  he  proceeded  to  narrate  how  he 
had  picked  up  a  wheel  of  Pharaoh's  chariot  on  the 
Red  Sea  shore.  Practically,  we  all  jump  easily  at 
beliefs  toward  the  level  of  which  we  have  already 
climbed  by  previous  knowledge  (or  previous  preju- 
dice, as  it  may  chance),  and  refuse,  donkey- wise,  to 
budge  an  inch  toward  those  which  happen  to  be  on 
a  plane  above  our  preconceived  notions  of  what 
either  is  or  ought  to  be.  It  is  this  propensity,  of 
course,  which  makes  the  most  baseless  calumny  mis- 
chievous by  paving  the  way  for  the  next  slander 
against  its  object.  And  it  is  it,  also,  which  grants 
interminable  leases  of  life  to  false  systems  of  physics 
and  religion  by  securing  a  welcome  for  every  fiction 
and  fallacy  which  at  any  tune  may  seem  to  favor 


152  SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

them,  and  closing  the  door  in  the  face  of  truths 
which  militate  against  and  might  explode  them. 

A  curious  study  of  the  "  Grammar  of  Assent,"  as 
used  by  the  majority  of  mankind  in  the  matter 
which  comes  nearest  to  their  own  business  and 
bosoms,  might,  I  think,  be  made  by  unearthing  the 
preconceived  notions  and  preparatory  ideas  which 
must  needs  exist  as  regards  the  healing  art,  and 
which  can  have  enabled  doctors  confidently  to  pre- 
scribe, and  patients  meekly  to  accept,  the  horrid 
and  shocking  remedies  in  use  from  the  earliest 
period, —  remedies  of  which  it  is  a  mild  criticism  to 
say  that  they  were  worse  than  the  diseases  they 
professed  to  cure.  Had  the  minds  of  men  con- 
cerned with  medical  inquiries  been  really  free  from 
antecedent  convictions, —  blank  sheets  of  paper 
whereon  Nature  could  have  written  down  her  facts, 
which  experience  might  have  read  and  collated, — 
it  is  clear  enough  that  good  diet,  exercise,  and 
cleanliness,  and  the  occasional  use  of  simple  prep- 
arations of  herbs,  would  early  have  constituted  the 
primitive  and  sound  rules  of  medical  science,  to  be 
supplemented,  as  time  went  on,  by  discoveries  of  the 
therapeutic  value  of  more  rare  vegetable  substances 
and  of  a  few  minerals.  Never  could  practical  ob- 
servation, by  any  possibility,  have  suggested  that  it 
would  be  beneficial  to  a  sick  man  to  make  him 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  153 

swallow  potable  gold  or  powdered  skulls,  or  a  bolus 
of  decomposed  old  toads  and  earth-worms.  The 
un-"  scientific  use  of  the  imagination "  can  alone 
have  dictated  these  and  scores  of  no  less  absurd  and 
obnoxious  prescriptions,  prompted  by  some  a  priori 
theory  of  what  ought,  antecedently  to  experience,  to 
be  suitable  for  the  cure  of  disease,  and  "in  accord- 
ance with  the  eternal  fitness  of  things." 

What,  then,  were  the  notions  in  obedience  to 
which  these  marvellous  remedies  were  ordained  ?  If 
we  exclude  from  present  consideration  all  the  really 
useful  therapeutic  agents,  discovered  doubtless  by 
genuine  experience  and  recorded  by  the  ancient 
physicians,  Galen  and  Hippocrates,  Dioscorides  and 
Avicenna,  and  all  the  rest,  and  also  set  aside  those 
which,  though  not  really  useful,  might  have  been 
readily  mistaken  for  being  so  by  imperfect  early 
observation,  we  find  the  immense  residue  of  absurd 
and  monstrous  recipes  to  fall  into  two  categories ; 
namely,  the  remedies  which  were  exceedingly  costly 
and  the  remedies  which  were  either  very  painful  or 
very  disgusting.  In  other  words,  a  large  part  of 
the  medical  science  of  all  past  ages  proves  that  the 
doctors  and  their  patients  valued  remedies  in  propor- 
tion to  the  price  to  be  paid  for  them,  either  in  money 
or  in  suffering.  In  short,  they  adopted  freely  the 
Doctrine  of  Sacrifice  as  applied  to  medicine.  Con- 


154  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

sidering  that  Nature  nearly  always  proceeds  on  pre- 
cisely the  opposite  track, —  that  she  does  not  ask  us 
"  to  do  some  great  thing,"  but,  like  the  true  prophet, 
only  bids  us  "  wash  and  be  clean " ;  makes  the 
cheapest  and  commonest  things  the  most  wholesome, 
and  affords  us  normally,  by  our  instinctive  desire  or 
loathing,  the  surest  test  of  the  fitness  or  unfitness 
of  food  for  our  use, —  there  is  something  exceedingly 
curious  in  the  all  but  universal  assumption  of  man- 
kind that  it  was  only  necessary  to  find  something 
particularly  rare  and  expensive,  or  else  something 
extraordinarily  revolting,  to  obtain  a  panacea  for  all 
the  woes  of  mortality.  It  was  ridiculous  (in  the 
estimation  of  our  forefathers)  to  suppose  that  a 
great  noble  or  king  should  dissolve  pearls  in  his 
drink  or  swallow  liquid  gold,  and  yet,  forsooth,  be 
no  better  after  all  than  a  poor  wretch  who  could 
afford  himself  only  a  little  milk  or  water.  Still  more 
incredible  was  it  that  a  man  should  submit  to  some 
agonizing  scarification  or  actual  cautery,  or  should 
compel  himself  to  bolt  some  inexpressibly  disgust- 
ing mess  which  his  doctor  had  taken  a  year  to 
concoct  and  distil  through  a  score  of  furnaces  and 
retorts,  and  yet,  when  all  was  over,  receive  no  more 
benefit  than  if  he  had  endured  no  hardship,  or  had 
only  drunk  some  cowslip  julep  or  herb  tea.  Such 
tame  and  impotent  conclusions  could  not  be  received 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  155 

for  a  moment.  If  patients  would  only  pay  enough 
or  suffer  enough,  they  must  be  cured.  This,  it 
really  seems,  was  the  underlying  conviction  of  men 
of  old,  on  which  half  the  therapeutics  of  past  times 
were  unconsciously  based. 

Let  us  cull  a  few  illustrations  of  the  ingenious 
development  of  those  principles  by  the  invention  of 
nostrums  distinguished  by  one  or  other  of  the  grand 
characteristics,  roughly  definable  as  costliness  or 
nastiness.  Perhaps,  ere  the  close  of  our  brief  re- 
view, we  may  find  we  have  less  reason  than  we 
fancy  at  starting  to  congratulate  ourselves  on  the 
disappearance  of  this  phase  of  human  folly,  or  to 
rest  assured  that  inductive  science  alone  now  rules 
in  the  sick-room,  and  that  neither  doctors  nor  pa- 
tients retain  any  faith  in  sacrificial  medicine. 

The  use  of  costly  things  as  remedies  for  disease 
constitutes  a  kind  of  haute  medecine  necessarily  of 
limited  application.  With  the  exception  of  the 
great  search  for  the  Aurum  PotaUle  in  the  Middle 
Ages,  there  are  much  fewer  traces  of  it  than  of  the 
other  form  of  sacrifice,  in  which  the  patient  payait 
de  sa  personne.  Everybody  could  be  scarified  or 
made  to  swallow  worms  and  filth;  but  there  were 
not  many  patients  who  could  afford  to  pay  for  emer- 
alds to  tie  on  their  stomachs  in  cases  of  dysentery, 
as  recommended  by  Avenzor,  nor  for  "  eight  grains 


156  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

of  that  noble  lunar  medicine,  the  wine  of  silver," 
nor  for  "dissolved  pearls,"  either  of  which  (Mat- 
thioli  assures  us)  is  "sovereign  against  melan- 
choly." Dioscorides  might  in  vain  recommend 
powdered  sapphires  for  starting  eyes,  or  St. 
Jerome  vaunt  their  virtues  for  many  other 
troubles,  to  the  majority  of  sufferers  in  their 
own  or  any  other  age.  Coral  was  more  within 
popular  reach ;  and  probably  a  considerable  number 
of  believing  souls  have  followed  Galen's  prescrip- 
tion and  tried  its  use  for  spitting  of  blood,  and 
Pliny's  recommendation  of  it  for  the  stone.  Avi- 
cenna  found  that  a  cordial  made  of  it  is  "singu- 
larly productive  of  joy " ;  and  Matthioli  says  it  has 
"truly  occult  virtues  against  epilepsy,"  whether 
"  hung  about  the  neck  or  drunk  in  powders."  * 
Emeralds  or  rubies,  and  even  silk  (then  a  rarer 
substance  in  Europe  than  now),  afford,  according 
to  Dioscorides,  relief  in  a  variety  of  ailments; 
but  of  course  nothing  could  be  so  generally,  and 
indeed  universally,  useful  as  gold.  He  who  could 

*  As  the  modern  mind  may  be  a  little  puzzled  as  to  the  mode  in  -which 
some  of  these  substances  can  be  introduced  into  our  internal  economy, 
the  following  extract  from  the  Family  Dictionary  of  Dr.  Salmon  (1696) 
may  throw  light  on  the  subject:  " CORAL,  to  prepare,— Take  such  a 
quantity  as  ye  think  convenient.  Make  it  into  a  fine  powder  by  grinding 
it  upon  a  Porphyry  or  an  Iron  Mortar.  Drop  on  it  by  degrees  a  little  rose- 
water,  and  form  it  into  balls  for  use.  After  this  manner,  Crabs'-Eyes, 
Pearls,  Oister  shells,  and  Precious  stones  are  prepared  to  make  up  Cor- 


SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  157 

discover  how  to  make  men  actually  drink  the  most 
costly  of  metals  would  teach  them  nothing  less 
than  the  secret  of  immortality.  The  Aurum  Pota- 
bile,  or  noble  "Solar  Oyl,"  especially  when  mixed 
with  the  "Lunar  Oyl"  of  silver,  and  "Mercurial 
Oyl,"  forms,  as  Bolnest  assures  us,  "a  great  Arca- 
num, fit  to  be  used  in  most  diseases,  especially  in 
chronicled  By  itself  alone,  indeed,  the  drinkable 
gold  was  understood  to  be  an  elixir  of  life, —  a  con- 
clusion not  a  little  remarkable,  when  we  consider 
that  the  only  real  value  of  the  metal  is  its  conven- 
ience as  a  circulating  medium  and  for  the  fabrica- 
tion of  ornaments,  and  that  the  artificial  importance 
thus  attached  to  it  must  have  so  affected  men's 
minds  as  to  cause  them  to  idealize  it  as  a  sort  of 
divine  antidote  to  disease  and  death. 

In  an  earlier  and  truer-hearted  age,  Paradise  was 
believed  to  be  a  garden,  and  it  was  the  Fruit  of  a 
Tree  of  Life  which  would  make  men  live  forever. 
But  when,  as  Gibbon  satirically  observes,  in  the 
dissolution  of  the  Roman  world,  men  coveted  only 
a  place  in  the  Celestial  City  of  gold  and  pearl,  the 
secret  of  immortality  was  sought  (not  inappropri- 
ately) at  the  bottom  of  a  Rosicrucian  crucible. 

dials  compounded  of  them  and  other  suitable  materials  for  the  strength- 
ening of  the  heart  in  fevers,  or  such  like  violent  diseases,  and  to  restore 
the  Decays  of  nature."  Ebony  is  swallowed  by  rasping  it  in  shavings 
and  making  a  decoction. 


158  SACRIFICIAL   MEDICINE. 

There  was,  it  must  be  confessed,  a  profound 
vulgarity  in  this  whole  system  of  costly  medicine, 
which  it  would  be  flattering  to  ourselves  to  think 
we  had  in  our  day  quite  overpassed  and  discarded. 
But  in  truth,  though  we  are  not  wont  to  dissolve 
pearls  or  powder  emeralds  or  drink  solar  or  even 
lunar  "  Oyl,"  it  may  be  fairly  asked  whether  we  do 
not  contrive  to  melt  down  a  handful  of  sovereigns 
in  every  attack  of  illness  to  very  little  better  pur- 
pose than  if  we  had  simply  given  them  to  an  old 
alchemist  to  put  in  his  furnace  and  make  for  us  an 
elixir  of  life?  What  are  these  long  rows  of  items 
in  our  druggist's  bill  for  draughts,  embrocations, 
liniments,  blisters,  gargles,  and  what  not,  repre- 
sented, when  the  housemaid  clears  our  room  for  con- 
valescence, by  a  whole  regiment  of  quarter-emptied 
phials  and  pill-boxes  on  our  table  ?  What  are  those 
considerable  drafts  recorded  in  our  check-book,  not 
only  for  the  attendance  of  our  customary  medical 
adviser  (which  might  be  reasonable),  but  for  the 
visits  of  the  eminent  consulting  physician,  brought 
down,  perchance,  fifty  or  five  hundred  miles  to  look 
at  us  for  five  minutes  while  we  lay  speechless  in 
our  fever  ?  Did  anybody  ever  use  one-half,  or  even 
one-third,  of  the  expensive  medicines  ordered  in 
every  illness  from  the  pharmacy  day  after  day? 
Or  did  anybody  find  a  medical  man,  in  view  of  a 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  159 

patient's  straitened  circumstances,  telling  his  anxious 
friends  that  the  remains  of  the  last  bottle  of  his 
physic  would  answer  as  well  as  a  new  one,  or  that 
they  might  readily  change  it,  by  adding  a  few  drops 
of  some  fresh  ingredient,  instead  of  ordering  another 
six  ounces  from  the  chemist,  to  be  set  aside  in  its 
turn,  half  used,  to-morrow  ?  Or  (what  is  still  more 
to  the  purpose)  did  anybody  ever  hear  of  a  case 
wherein  the  physician  summoned  for  consultation 
(possibly  at  enormous  cost)  has  given  his  honest 
opinion  that  the  regular  medical  attendant  of  the 
patient  has  mistaken  his  case,  and  that  the  treatment 
ought  to  be  altogether  reversed  ? 

The  same  idea  has  been  at  the  bottom  of  our 
proceedings  and  those  of  our  ancestors  which  we 
ridicule;  namely,  that  if  we  do  but  spend  money 
enough,  a  cure  must  follow. 

But,  as  I  remarked  before,  the  notion  that  cost- 
liness of  itself  is  a  test  of  medicinal  virtue  has  been, 
necessarily,  far  less  prolific  of  results  than  the  kin- 
dred idea  that  by  the  pain  and  disgust  entailed  on 
a  patient  might  be  estimated  the  value  of  the  remedy 
applied  to  his  disease.  As  to  disgust,  it  would 
really  appear  as  if  some  ancient  prophets  of  the 
healing  art,  some  Phoebus  Epicurios  or  JEsculapius, 
must  have  laid  down  as  a  principle  for  the  selection 
of  health-restoring  compounds  and  concoctions, 


160  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

"  By  their  nauseousness  ye  shall  know  them."  Else 
were  the  recipes  for  all  the  hideous,  abominable 
witch-broths,  wherewith  the  older  books  of  medicine 
are  replete,  quite  unaccountable  on  any  theory  of 
human  sanity.  Many  of  them  (which  weak-souled 
patients  have  swallowed  by  the  ounce  and  the 
pound)  were  of  a  kind  which  it  is  quite  impossible 
to  quote ;  nor  can  we  wonder  that,  as  Plato  tells  us, 
the  Athenian  physicians  were  wont  to  engage  the 
great  rhetorician  Gorgias  to  accompany  them  and 
persuade  their  patients  to  take  their  prescriptions. 
Let  the  following,  however,  be  taken  as  moderate 
examples :  — 

"Take  what  Animal  soever  thy  fancy  best  liketh,  and  thou 
thinkest  most  fit  to  prepare.  Kill  it  and  take  it  (but  separate 
nothing  of  its  impurities,  as  feathers,  hoofs,  hairs,  or  other 
heterogeneous  substance),  bruise  all  in  a  large  and  strong  mortar 
to  a  fit  consistency,  put  it  then  into  a  vessel  for  putrefaction,  and 
put  upon  it  of  the  blood  of  animals  of  the  same  kind  so  much  as 
may  well  moisten  it,  or,  which  is  better,  cover  it  all  over.  Shut 
close  the  vessel  and  set  it  to  putrifie,  in  fimo  equino,  for  forty 
dayes  that  it  may  ferment."  (The  result  is  to  be  distilled,  cal- 
cined, rectified,  and  distilled  over  again  and  again,  "  seven  times 
to  separate  its  phlegme,"  till  finally)  "  thou  hast  a  pleasant  [!!], 
safe,  and  noble  Animal  Arcanum  to  fortifie  the  animal  life,  and 
restore  health  and  vigor  to  its  languishing  spirit,  till  God  doth  call 
for  its  final  dissolution  and  separation." — Aurora  Chymica,  p.  6. 

This  was  bad  enough,  but  a  great  advance  (in 
the  line  of  sacrifice)  was  made  when  to  the  mere 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  161 

odiousness,  we  may  say  beastliness,  of  the  dose  per 
se  could  be  added  the  horror  of  eating  what  had 
once  formed  part  of  a  human  body, —  in  short,  of 
cannibalism.  The  ordonnances  which  follow  really 
seem  to  have  a  connection  with  ancient  idol-rites 
of  human  sacrifice,  and  possibly  (had  we  means  of 
tracing  them)  might  be  fathered  on  the  earliest 
worshippers  of  Hesus  or  of  Odin.  The  seasons  of 
the  year  (spring  and  autumn)  wherein  the  victim 
must  die  (very  carefully  defined  in  these  prescrip- 
tions) seem  to  give  color  to  this  view.  Down  to 
the  conquest  of  Mexico  by  the  Spaniards,  Helps 
tells  us,  the  Aztecs  used  yearly  to  slay  a  young  man 
in  spring  that  the  nobles  might  eat  his  heart  as  a 
sort  of  sacrament.  Anyway,  it  is  rather  startling 
to  find  that  just  two  hundred  years  ago  in  London 
the  physician  in  ordinary  to  the  King  recommended 
cannibalism  to  Englishmen  without  the  smallest 
apology  or  hesitation. 

A  Mummiall  Quintessence. 

Take  of  the  flesh  of  a  sound  young  man,  dying  a  natural 
death  about  the  middle  of  August,  three  or  four  pounds.  Let 
the  flesh  be  taken  from  his  thighs  or  other  fleshy  parts.  Put  it 
into  a  fit  glass  and  pour  upon  it  spirit  of  wine.  Let  it  stand  so 
three  or  four  days.  Take  out  the  flesh  and  put  it  upon  a  glass 
plate,  and  imbibe  it  with  spirits  of  salts.  Let  it  stand  uncovered, 
but  in  the  shade,  where  no  dust  or  other  filth  may  fall  upon  it, 


162  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

Be  sure  you  often  turn  it,  and,  being  well  dried,  you  may  put  it  up 
in  a  fit  jar  and  keep  it  for  use. — Aurora  Chymica,  chap.  iii. 

A  still  more  efficacious  remedy,  "  producing  won- 
derful effects  both  in  preserving  and  restoring 
health,"  may  be  obtained  by  distilling,  filtering,  cal- 
cining, and  coagulating  this  "  Mummiall "  till  it  have 
a  "  saccharine  taste,"  when  the  "  matter  may  be  left 
of  the  thickness  or  consistency  of  honey,  which  must 
be  kept  in  glass  vessels  closely  shut."  (Ibid.,  p.  8.) 

If  the  "  sound  young  man "  should  have  been 
killed  in  the  spring  instead  of  in  "the  middle  of 
August,"  the  learned  Dr.  Bolnest  is  not  without  a 
remedy.  His  flesh  is,  indeed,  no  longer  useful  for 
a  "  Mummiall,"  but  his  blood  may  be  made  into  a 
"very  high  balsam,  exceeding  much  the  powers  and 
virtue  of  natural  balsam;  a  potent  preservative  in 
time  of  pestilence,  leprosie,  palsie,  and  gout  of  all 
sorts." 

"  Take  of  such  blood  a  large  quantity.  Gather  in  glass  vessels. 
Let  it  settle  some  time  till  it  hath  thrown  out  all  its 'waterish 
humor,  which  separate  by  wary  inclination.  Take  now  of  this 
concrete  blood  five  or  six  pounds,  which  put  to  ten  or  twelve 
pints  of  spirits  of  wine.  Shake  them  well  together,  and  let  it 
digest  six  or  eight  days  in  warm  ashes."  Distil.  Add  the  fixed 
salt  drawn  out  of  the  caput  mortuum  of  the  blood  by  "  calcina- 
tion," "solution,"  "filtration,"  "coagulation,"  often  repeated; 
"and  what  shall  remain  behind  is  the  Arcanum  of  Blood" 
(p.  10). 


SACBEFICIAL  MEDICINE.  163 

When  obtained  in  the  manner  above  described, 
this  invaluable  remedy  is  "to  be  taken  in  broth  or 
treacle-water  with  a  fasting"  (and  let  us  devoutly 
hope  an  unusually  vigorous)  "  stomach."  Only  one 
caution  is  necessary.  The  "  sound  young  man's " 
blood  must  have  been  shed  "when  Mercury  was 
above  the  horizon  and  in  conjunction  with  the  sun 
in  Gemini  or  Virgo." 

After  the  broth  of  man's  blood,  a  "Balsamick 
Remedy  for  Arthritick  Pains,"  composed  of  the 
bones  of  a  man  "  which  hath  not  been  buried  fully 
a  year,"  beat  up  into  a  powder,  calcined,  and  ap- 
plied on  lint,  appears  a  comparatively  mild  and 
pleasant  receipt.  So,  likewise,  is  the  "  Quintessence 
of  Toads,"  to  be  composed  in  the  month  of  June 
or  July  of  a  "great  quantity  of  overgrown  toads," 
reduced,  calcined,  and  distilled  as  usual,  and  then 
"  dissolved  in  spirit  of  oranges  or  treacle-water  ready 
for  use,"  either  externally,  when  it  cures  "cancers 
and  pestilential  venom,"  or  internally,  against  "all 
sorts  of  poison." 

The  above  prescriptions  are  taken,  be  it  said,  not 
from  the  manual  of  one  of  those  vulgar  quacks  to 
whom  we  are  too  apt  to  credit  every  absurdity  of 
ancient  medicine,  but  from  a  serious  treatise  by 
Edward  Bolnest,  physician  in  ordinary  to  the  King 
(1672),  dedicated  to  George  Duke  of  Buckingham, 


164  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

and  described  on  the  title-page  as  "Shewing  a 
Rational  [!]  Way  of  preparing  Animals,  Vegetables, 
and  Minerals  for  a  Physical  Use,  by  which  they  are 
made  most  efficacious,  safe,  and  pleasant  Medicines 
for  the  Preservation  and  Restoration  of  the  Life  of 
Man."  How  honest  was  the  worthy  author  in  his 
belief  in  his  "  Mummiall  Quintessence,"  and  all  the 
rest,  may  be  judged  from  his  frank  avowal  "  to  the 
Reader  "  that  the  medicines  prescribed  he  might  "  in 
some  measure  in  time  of  need  trust  to,"  because, 
adds  Dr.  Bolnest  candidly,  "I  never  yet  from  the 
best  of  medicines  always  found  those  certain  effects 
I  could  have  desired." 

These  were,  however,  refined  preparations  com- 
pared to  the  prescriptions  in  use  in  still  earlier 
generations.  In  the  great  folio  of  M.  Pietro  Andrea 
Matthioli  (Venice,  1621),  adorned  with  hundreds  of 
really  admirable  woodcuts  of  medicinal  herbs  and 
flowers,  there  are  directions  for  rubbing  wounds 
with  cow-dung,  swallowing  beeswax,  silk,  sweat,  and 
saliva,  and  drinking  hare's  blood  and  dog's  dung 
dissolved  in  milk  as  a  cure  for  dysentery.  Nervous 
people  are  to  dine  on  cooked  vipers.  Persons  with 
the  toothache  are  to  apply  to  their  teeth  a  ser- 
pent's skin  steeped  in  vinegar,  or  to  powder  the 
callosities  on  a  horse's  legs,  and  stuff  their  ears 
therewith.  A  black  eye  may  be  treated  with  a 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 


poultice  of  human  milk,  incense,  and  the  blood  of 
a  tortoise.  For  the  not  very  serious  affection  of 
hiccough  a  beverage  is  recommended,  of  which  the 
chief  ingredient  is  the  flesh  of  a  mummy;  thus 
affording  us  further  evidence  that  cannibalism  sur- 
vived in  medicine,  and  was  approved  by  the  faculty 
in  Italy  as  well  as  England,  down  to  a  very  recent 
period.  Besides  these  "  strange  meats, "  Matthioli 
regularly  classifies  in  a  table  a  multitude  of  what  he 
is  pleased  to  call  "  simple  medicines,"  among  which 
are  to  be  found  the  bodies,  or  parts  of  bodies,  of 
wolves,  scorpions,  centipedes,  ostriches,  beavers,  and 
dogs,  the  cast-off  skins  of  serpents,  the  horns  of 
unicorns  (when  attainable  !),  the  hoofs  of  asses  and 
goats,  beeswax,  silk,  asphalt,  and  several  filthy  sub- 
stances which  cannot  here  be  named.  Albertus 
Magnus  (vide  the  curious  little  black-letter  volume, 
Le  G-rat  Albert,  in  the  British  Museum)  orders 
nervous  patients  to  eat  eagles'  brains,  whereby  they 
may  acquire  the  courage  of  the  king  of  birds ;  while 
the  brains  of  the  owl,  the  goat,  the  camel,  etc., 
convey  the  .peculiar  qualities  of  each  of  those  ani- 
mals. Pliny's  great  work,  it  is  needless  to  say,  is  a 
repertory  of  marvellous  counsels  and  observations. 
Earth  taken  out  of  a  human  skull  acts  as  a  depila- 
tory, and  benefit  is  derived  from  chewing  plants 
which  have  happened  to  grow  in  the  same  un- 


166  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

pleasant  receptacle.  On  the  principle,  we  presume, 
of  "I  am  not  the  rose,  but  I  have  dwelt  near  the 
rose,"  herbs  growing  on  a  manure  heap  are  found 
especially  efficacious  as  remedies  for  quinsy.  The 
hair  of  man,  taken  from  a  cross,  is  good  for  quartan 
fevers,  and  human  ear-wax  is  the  only  proper  appli- 
cation to  a  wound  occasioned  by  a  human  bite. 
The  uses  of  saliva  are  numberless,  and  fill  a  whole 
chapter  of  the  Natural  History.  "  Fasting  spittle," 
in  particular,  applied  to  the  eyes,  is  an  infallible 
cure  for  ophthalmia, —  a  remedy  which  Persius 
treats  with  blameworthy  scepticism  as  an  old- 
womanly  practice.  In  cases  where  bread  has  stuck 
in  the  throat,  a  piece  of  the  same  loaf  should  be 
inserted  in  the  ears.  The  use  of  the  fluid  which 
exudes  from  the  pores  of  the  skin  is  so  valuable 
that  (Pliny  assures  us)  the  owners  of  the  Grecian 
gymnasia  made  a  thriving  trade  by  selling  the 
scrapings  of  the  bodies  of  athletes,  which,  "com- 
pounded with  oil,  is  of  an  emollient,  calorific,  and 
expletive  nature."  If  any  lady  desire  to  cultivate 
an  interesting  and  pallid  appearance,  she  ought  to 
imitate  Drusus,  who  drank  goats'  blood  to  make  it 
appear  that  his  enemy  Cassius  had  poisoned  him. 
For  melancholy  (an  affection  which  seems  to  have 
given  great  concern  to  the  old  doctors),  Dioscorides 
recommends  black  hellebore  held  in  the  mouth, — 


SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  167 

certainly  a  recipe  on  homoeopathic  principles,  since 
a  mouthful  of  hellebore  would  scarcely  naturally 
serve,  like  the  Psalmist's  wine  and  oil,  either  to 
make  glad  the  heart  of  man  or  to  give  him  a 
cheerful  countenance.  A  better  remedy  for  the 
same  melancholy  is  "broth  of  old  cock,"  our 
Scotch  friend  cockaleekie. 

For  some  unexplained  reason,  two  only  among 
the  ills  to  which  flesh  is  heir,  and  they  among  the 
most  serious, —  frenzy  and  inflammation  of  the  stom- 
ach,—-seem  to  have  escaped  from  the  dread  rSgime 
of  Sacrificial  Medicine,  and  indeed  are  treated  with 
surprising  lenity.  Dioscorides  thinks  that  frenzy 
can  be  cured  by  asparagus  and  white  wine,  and  con- 
siders that  the  patient  suffering  from  gastritis  should 
have  a  plaster  of  roses  applied  to  the  seat  of  his 
disease ! 

Besides  the  "  exhibition  "  of  nauseous  and  revolt- 
ing draughts,  boluses,  and  pills,  the  system  of  Sacri- 
ficial Medicine  has  at  all  times  commanded  many 
other  ingenious  resources  for  the  creation  of  unnec- 
essary pain,  trouble,  and  annoyance  to  sick  persons 
and  their  friends.  If,  for  example,  a  stiff-necked 
patient  were  unmanageable  in  the  matter  of  some 
particularly  disagreeable  dose,  he  might  still  be 
induced  to  go  on  vexing  nature  by  some  out-of-the- 
way  diet,  and  potions  repeated  at  stated  intervals, 


168  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

till  faith  or  life  succumbed  in  the  struggle.  One  old 
physician,  ^Etius,  in  this  way  prescribed  for  the  gout 
a  separate  dietary  for  every  month  of  a  whole  year. 
Another,  the  great  Alexander  of  Tralles,  ordained 
three  hundred  and  sixty-five  potions,  so  arranged  as 
to  furnish  out  a  course  for  two  years;  whereupon 
Dr.  Friend,  the  learned  author  of  the  History  of 
Physick,  remarks  that  "  his  receipts  were  as  good  as 
any  of  those  which  our  new  pretenders  to  physick 
make  use  of,"  but  adds  the  discouraging  dictum, 
"  After  all,  gout  is  a  distemper  with  which  it  were 
best  not  to  tamper." 

Then  there  were  fearful  tortures  in  the  way  of 
excoriations,  of  which  St.  John  Long's  famous 
remedy  was  a  notable  example, —  blisters,  cauteries, 
and  setons,  too  unpleasant  to  dwell  upon.  Scarifi- 
cation was  a  comparatively  merciful  form  of  these 
inflictions.  It  was  practised,  according  to  Prosper 
Albinus  (Hist.  Phys.,  p.  17),  in  the  following  agree- 
able manner :  "  First,  make  a  strait  [tight]  ligature 
on  the  leg ;  then  rub  the  leg  below  it,  put  it  into 
warm  water,  and  beat  till  it  swells,  and  so  scarify  "  ! 
Something  worse  than  this  was  practised  down  to 
the  present  generation  in  the  case  of  wounds.  It  is 
in  the  writer's  recollection  that  an  unhappy  groom 
who  had  lost  a  piece  of  flesh  out  of  the  calf  of  his 
leg  sought  assistance  after  his  accident  from  a 


SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  169 

motherly  old  cook,  the  medical  adviser  in  ordinary 
of  the  whole  household.  The  good  woman  evi- 
dently held  the  doctrine  of  Sacrificial  Medicine  deep 
in  her  soul,  as  well  as  a  due  estimate  of  the  utility, 
under  all  circumstances,  of  the  art  of  cookery. 
Encouraging  the  poor  young  man  with  suitable 
reflections  on  the  purifying  use  of  salt  and  fire,  she 
accordingly  rubbed  a  handful  from  her  salt-box  into 
the  wound,  and  then  held  the  miserable  limb  steadily 
to  the  kitchen  fire  ! 

A  bath  of  blood  has  been  frequently  employed  to 
resuscitate  exhausted  patients.  When  Caesar  Borgia 
barely  survived  swallowing  his  share  of  the  bottles 
of  poisoned  wine  which  his  respectable  father,  Pope 
Alexander  VI.,  had  intended  for  the  Cardinal,  but 
took  by  mistake  for  himself  and  his  son,  it  is  said 
that  an  ox  was  brought  into  Caesar's  apartments  and 
disembowelled,  to  enable  him  to  get  into  it  and 
receive  such  vitality  as  the  warm,  bleeding  carcass 
might  impart.  We  are  here  at  the  point  where  Sac- 
rificial Medicine  assumes  the  vicarious  form,  and  the 
poor  brutes  are  made  to  suffer  instead  of  the  human 
patients  for  the  benefit  of  the  latter.  In  an  account 
of  the  birth  of  the  Due  de  Bourgogne,  grandson  of 
Louis  XIV.,  in  the  CuriositSs  Historiques  (p.  48), 
amid  the  description  of  the  raptures  of  the  splen- 
did court  assembled  on  the  occasion,  there  is  a 


170  SACRIFICIAL   MEDICINE. 

casual  mention  of  an  incident  affording  a  wonderful 
contrast  to  all  this  royal  joy  and  magnificence. 
The  attendant  chief  accoucheur,  the  celebrated  Dr. 
Clement,  to  prevent  suffering  on  the  part  of  the 
mother  (the  Dauphine),  applied  to  her  person  the 
shin  of  a  sheep,  newly  flayed.  To  obtain  this  quite 
fresh,  a  butcher  was  engaged  to  skin  the  animal 
alive  iii  the  adjoining  room ;  and,  being  anxious  to 
offer  the  skin  as  quickly  as  possible  to  the  doctor, 
he  carried  it  into  the  chamber  of  the  Dauphine, 
leaving  the  door  open.  The  sheep,  in  its  agony, 
followed  him,  and  ran  in,  bleeding  and  skinless, 
among  the  shrieking  crowd  of  courtiers  and  gran- 
dees. In  modern  times,  worse  things  than  these  are 
done  to  animals,  professedly  for  the  benefit  of  man- 
kind; but  they  are  now  performed  quietly  in 
physiological  laboratories,  not  paraded  in  public,  else 
it  is  to  be  believed  that  even  the  most  selfish  among 
us  would  cry,  "  Hold !  we  desire  no  cure  of  disease, 
no  scientific  knowledge,  at  any  such  horrible  price." 
Yet,  again,  there  was  a  class  of  Sacrificial  Rem- 
edies whose  merit  consisted  in  requiring  the  patient 
to  travel  a  long  way,  or  to  apply  to  some  hardly 
accessible  personage,  to  obtain  relief.  There  were 
Holy  Wells  having  no  medicinal  properties  what- 
ever, which  cured  all  the  multitudes  of  people  who 
made  long  and  painful  pilgrimages  to  reach  them. 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  171 

More  remarkable  still  were  the  benefits  derived  in 
cases  of  scrofula  from  being  touched  by  a  king, —  a 
privilege,  it  may  be  safely  guessed,  not  accorded 
without  some  delay  and  solicitation,  and  possibly 
not  without  fees  to  royal  attendants,  scarcely  dis- 
interested witnesses  of  the  miracles  which  followed. 
The  history  of  this  particular  delusion  would  alone 
form  a  very  curious  chapter,  since  Archbishop  Brad- 
wardine,  in  1348,  appealed  to  the  whole  world  in 
proof  of  the  wonder,  till  Samuel  Johnson's  scarred 
and  mighty  head  was  subjected  to  the  royal  touch. 
When  we  recall  the  fact  that  only  in  the  eighteenth 
century  did  a  special  religious  service  for  the  cere- 
mony cease  to  form  a  part  of  the  Liturgy  of  the 
Church  of  England,  we  do  not  seem  to  ourselves  to 
have  yet  advanced  a  great  way  beyond  this  harmless 
superstition.  Indeed,  it  is  only  in  the  present  gen- 
eration that  the  scientific  name  of  the  malady  has 
generally  superseded  its  familiar  title  of  the  "  King's 
Evil,"  or  by  ellipsis  "  the  Evil,"  by  which  it  is  even 
now  known  in  remote  parts  of  the  country. 

Where  it  was  impossible  to  obtain  help  from  a 
king,  there  yet  remained  the  possibility  of  being 
touched  by  somebody  else,  who  might  possess  some 
rare  and  peculiar  privilege  and  fitness  for  healing  dis- 
ease. The  odd  malady,  popularly  called  "  shingles," 
for  example,  somehow  suggested  to  the  sufferers  the 


172  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

desirability  of  having  recourse  to  some  special  agency 
of  relief;  and  this  was  found  in  persons  who  had 
either  themselves  eaten  the  flesh  of  an  eagle,  or 
whose  fathers  or  ancestors  had  done  so.  Within 
the  last  thirty  years,  a  gentleman's  servant  in  Wales 
has  been  known  to  perform  a  journey  of  forty  miles 
across  the  mountains  to  be  touched  by  a  man  whose 
grandfather  had  eaten  an  eagle. 

Finally,  there  is  a  large  heterogeneous  class  of 
prescriptions,  obviously  owing  their  origin  to  the 
principle  of  Sacrificial  Medicine,  of  which  the  simple 
rule  has  been  to  prevent  the  miserable  patient  from 
adopting  any  mode  of  relief  for  his  sufferings  which 
Nature  might  point  out,  and  adding  to  them  fresh 
pain  by  any  ingenious  device  which  may  occur  to 
his  physician.  Of  this  kind  was  the  treatment  of 
fever  in  vogue  till  quite  recently,  when  the  patient 
was  carefully  shut  up  in  a  close  room,  with  well- 
curtained  bed  and  warm  bedclothes,  and  was  pro- 
hibited from  relieving  his  thirst  with  any  cold  drink. 
Truly,  if  Marcellus  Sidetes,  who  is  said  to  have 
written  forty-two  books  in  "  heroic  "  verse  "  concern- 
ing distempers,"  had  given  us  a  picture  of  all  the 
misery  which  must  have  been  occasioned  in  the 
world  by  the  really  insolent  disregard  of  Nature  and 
common  sense  shown  in  these  matters, —  how  many 
thousands  of  lives  have  been  thrown  away,  and 


SACEIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  173 

through  what  maddening  misery  the  survivors  must 
have  struggled  back  to  life, —  those  poems,  instead 
of  being  forgotten  by  the  world,  might  have  done 
us  precious  service  by  reminding  us  that  there  is 
some  counterweight  to  be  placed  in  the  scale 
wherein  we  are  wont  to  measure  our  debts  of  grati- 
tude to  medical  science. 

Another  appalling  device  was  that  of  the  renowned 
English  physician,  John  of  Gaddesden,  who  intro- 
duced the  practice  of  treating  the  small-pox  by 
wrapping  up  the  patient  in  scarlet,  hanging  his 
room  in  scarlet,  and  in  fact  compelling  him  to  rest 
his  feverish  eyes  only  on  that  flaring  hue.  John 
tried  this  notable  device,  according  to  his  own  show- 
ing, on  one  of  the  sons  of  King  Edward  I.  (it  does 
not  appear  to  which  he  refers),  and  complacently 
adds  to  his  report,  "et  est  bona  cura."  In  those 
days,  however,  doors  and  windows  were  not  made 
air-tight,  and  up  the  capacious  chimneys  a  consider- 
able portion  of  fresh  air  must  always  have  rushed. 
It  was  reserved  for  a  later  generation  to  perfect  the 
ingenious  system  for  aggravating  and  intensifying 
fever  by  pasting  down  the  modern  window,  closing 
the  registers,  and  (as  a  climax)  engaging  nurses  to 
lie  beside  the  sufferer  to  keep  up  the  heat!  The 
writer  heard  some  years  ago  from  the  lips  of  a  Mem- 
ber of  Parliament,  now  deceased,  the  recital  of  his 


174  SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

own  treatment  as  a  boy,  in  or  near  London,  under 
a  severe  attack  of  small-pox.  His  life  being  spe- 
cially valuable  as  that  of  an  only  son,  his  affectionate 
parents,  by  the  advice  of  a  distinguished  physician, 
obtained  the  services  of  two  fat  women,  who  were 
established  permanently  in  bed  on  each  side  of 
the  child  during  the  whole  course  of  the  disease! 
What  stipend  was  offered  to  tempt  these  poor 
obese  females  to  perform  this  awful  service  has 
escaped  from  the  record. 

Reading  over  all  these  marvellous  prescriptions, 
it  is  a  refreshing  exercise  to  picture  the  fashionable 
"leech,"  the  Gull  or  Jenner  of  the  period,  physi- 
cian iii  ordinary  to  the  King  or  Queen,  suave  and 
solemn,  filled  to  the  brim  with  all  the  conscious 
dignity  of  Science,  standing  beside  the  sick-bed  of 
some  mighty  prince  or  peer,  and  giving  to  the  awe- 
stricken  attendants  his  high  commands  to  hang  the 
room  with  scarlet  cloth,  or  to  bring  to  the  patient 
one  of  the  horrid  messes  prepared  with  such  infinite 
pains  under  his  direction,  in  his  own  laboratory. 
We  can  almost  hear  him  condescendingly  explaining 
to  the  chief  persons  present  what  occult  relationship 
exists  between  the  small-pox  and  the  scarlet  cloth, 
or  how  the  Arcanum  of  Toads  comes  to  be  specially 
valuable,  having  been  composed  of  the  fattest  old 
toads,  selected  precisely  at  the  right  season, —  vide- 


SACRIFICIAL  MEDICINE.  175 

licet  midsummer.  Of  course,  in  each  successive 
generation  there  was  nothing  for  the  unlearned  laity 
to  do  but  to  bow  submissively  to  the  dicta  of  the 
exponent  of  Science  as  it  existed  at  the  time. 
People  may  always  laugh  at  what  is  past  and  gone ; 
but  to  suspect  that  living  men  may  be  mistaken, 
or  that  new  systems  of  medicine,  philosophy,  or 
theology,  may  be  destined,  like  the  old,  to  "have 
their  day  and  cease  to  be,"  is  audacity  to  which 
no  one  should  advance.  We  dare  not,  therefore, 
suggest  that,  to  our  grandsons,  half  our  modern 
nostrums  (of  which  the  fashion  comes  in  freshly  one 
season  and  usually  falls  into  disrepute  a  few  years 
after)  may  possibly  appear  scarcely  a  degree  less 
ridiculous  than  the  Arcanum  of  Toads  or  the  Mum- 
miall  Quintessence.  It  was  not  much  worse,  after 
all,  to  make  a  patient  drink  a  dead  man's  blood 
than  to  rob  him  of  his  own,  in "  the  Sangrado  style 
to  which  (in  the  memory  of  us  all)  the  world  owes 
the  loss  of  Cavour.  It  would  have  been  a  mercy 
to  a  poor  Florentine  lady,  lately  deceased,  had  her 
physician  counselled  her  merely  to  eat  earth-worms 
pickled  in  vinegar,  or  green  lizards  boiled  alive  in 
oil,  as  recommended  by  Dr.  Salmon,  instead  of 
bleeding  her  from  the  arm  nineteen  times  in  the 
fortnight  following  her  confinement  and  (as  may  be 
readily  understood)  preceding  her  untimely  death. 


176  SACKIFICIAL  MEDICINE. 

Sacrificial  Medicine,  however,  in  its  simpler  and 
more  easily  recognizable  forms,  is  undoubtedly  on 
the  wane,  though  a  good  deal  of  its  spirit  may  still 
be  traced  in  our  behavior  to  the  sick.  To  homoe- 
opathy (as  to  many  another  kind  of  heresy),  we 
probably  owe  somewhat  of  the  mitigation  of  ortho- 
doxy; and  children,  noticing  the  busts  of  Hahne- 
mann  in  the  shop  windows,  may  be  properly  taught 
to  bless  that  great  deliverer  who  banished  from  the 
nursery  those  huge  and  hateful  mugs  of  misery, — 
black  founts  of  so  many  infantine  tears, —  mugs  of 
sobs  and  sighs  and  gasps  and  struggles  unutterable, 
from  one  of  which  Madame  Roland  drew  the  first 
inspiration  of  that  martyr  spirit  which  led  her 
onward  to  the  guillotine,  when  she  suffered  herself 
to  be  whipped  six  times  running,  sooner  than  swal- 
low the  abominable  contents. 


THE  FITNESS  OP  WOMEN  FOE  THE  MIN- 
ISTKY  OF  EELIGION. 


THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN  FOE  THE 
MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION. 


AMONG  the  anomalies  of  our  social  state  may  be 
counted  the  fact  that,  while  it  is  generally  admitted 
that  women  are  more  religious  than  men,  it  is  to 
men  that  in  our  age  and  country  the  Ministry  of 
Religion  is  (with  infinitesimal  exceptions)  exclu- 
sively committed.  While  nine  persons  out  of  ten 
are  conscious  that  their  earliest  sentiments  of  piety 
have  been  derived  from  a  mother,  and  that  a  sister  or 
a  wife  has  alone  enabled  the  troubled  faith  of  their 
latter  years  to  survive  the  shocks  of  worldliness  and 
doubt,  there  is  yet  not  one  recognized  channel  by 
which  these  waters  of  life,  stored  in  the  fountain  of 
women's  hearts,  can  flow  beyond  the  narrowest 
borders ;  while,  on  the  contrary,  it  is  not  too  much 
to  surmise  that  to  a  very  large  number  of  clergy- 
men, well-meaning,  learned,  and  conscientious,  the 
sense  of  dryness  of  soul  in  all  that  concerns  the 
more  spiritual  part  of  their  office  is  a  perpetual 
self-reproach.  Habitans  in  Sicco  writes  every 


180  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

autumn  in  the  newspapers  to  complain  he  can 
obtain  no  refreshment  from  his  weekly  sermon  at 
any  church  in  his  neighborhood,  while  around  him 
all  the  time  are  private  wells  and  underground 
rivers  of  the  purest  element  of  feeling  for  which  he 
thirsts.  It  is  a  case  of 

"  Water,  water,  everywhere, 
But  not  a  drop  to  drink." 

What  we  want  first  and  above  all  things  in  our 
ministers  of  religion  is  that  they  should  be  intensely 
religious;  and  knowing  this,  and  that  all  other  gifts 
and  acquirements  are  comparatively  of  small  avail 
for  the  purpose,  we  deliberately  exclude  from  the 
sacred  office  that  moiety  of  the  community  among 
whom  this  special  and  most  precious  grace  is,  at  all 
events,  least  rare.* 

The  reasons  for  this  exclusion  are,  however,  amply 
sufficient  to  account,  historically,  for  the  anomaly. 
They  are  of  two  kinds,  which  I  shall  take  leave  to 
characterize  as  the  Bad  and  the  Good.  There  is 
a  very  deep-rooted  prejudice,  inherited  from  the 
ascetics  of  early  Christianity,  whereby  the  idea  of 

*It  will  be  seen  that  I  differ  toto  caelo  on  this  point  from  Mr.  Mahaffy 
in  his  interesting  recent  essay  on  the  Decay  of  Preaching.  He  seems 
to  me  only  to  recognize  the  moral  and  intellectual  forces  which  move 
men,  and  these  compared  with  the  spiritual  are  only  what  mechanical 
ones  are  to  the  electric. 


FOE  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  181 

womanhood  is  connected  with  very  base  associations. 
It  is  impossible  to  ignore  this  fact  in  any  review  of 
the  religious  position  of  the  sex ;  and  it  is  therefore 
better  to  say  bluntly  that,  from  this  point  of  view, 
a  woman  is  looked  upon  rather  as  an  emissary  from 
the  pit  than  a  "daughter  of  the  Lord  Almighty," 
rather  a  temptation  to  earthly  passion  than  a  help- 
mate to  heavenly  purity.  Springing  up  when  the 
old  classical  world  had  sunk  into  a  corruption  and 
foulness  which  we  can  now  probably  little  realize 
in  imagination,  the  frenzy  of  asceticism  which  was 
nourished  among  the  deserts  of  the  Thebaid  and 
attained  its  full  growth  in  the  monasteries  of  Greece 
and  Italy, —  the  origin  of  all  the  legends  of  which  the 
"Temptation  of  St.  Anthony"  is  the  type,* — has 
left  almost  ineffaceable  traces  throughout  the  nations 
of  Europe ;  of  course  much  more  sharply  marked  in 
the  Latin  and  Greek  Churches,  which  have  canon- 
ized these  poor  fanatics,  and  still  set  apotheosized 

*Ingoldsby's  rendering  of  this  world-famous  story,  the  favorite  theme 
of  so  many  eminent  painters,  is  probably  no  very  exaggerated  reading  of 
the  general  impression  of  the  monastic  mind  respecting  the  fair  sex  :  — 
"  There  are  many  devils  which  walk  this  world, 
Devils  great  and  devils  small, 
Devils  short  and  devils  tall ; 
Bold  devils  which  go  with  their  tails  unfurled, 
Sly  devils  which  carry  them  quite  upcurled ; 

But  a  laughing  woman  with  two  bright  eyes 
Is  the  worsest  devil  of  all !" 


182  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

virginity  on  one  of  the  thrones  of  heaven,  than 
among  Protestant  communities,  wherein  marriage 
has  been  always  placed  on  a  moral  level  with  celi- 
bacy, and  Martin  Luther  has  been  thoroughly  ab- 
solved for  his  conjugal  affection  for  the  singularly 
plain  old  lady  whose  portrait  by  Lucas  Cranach 
we  beheld  some  years  ago  in  the  Exhibition  of  Old 
Masters  h.  Burlington  House.*  Nevertheless,  even 
among  Protestant  Christians,  a  certain  impression 
has  remained,  the  reverse  of  the  faith  of  their  old 
Teuton  forefathers,  that  women  were  nearer  to  the 
mind  of  the  Divinity  than  men.  The  highest  relig- 
ious status  a  woman  could  attain  in  Milton's  opinion 
was  a  sort  of  deputy  piety, — 

"  He  for  God  only,  she  for  God  in  him  "  ; 

a  type  which,  considering  the  kind  of  representatives 
of  the  Deity  which  some  of  Adam's  descendants 
have  proved  to  their  wives,  is  scarcely  to  be  ranked 
as  elevated.  The  paramount  influence  of  St.  Paul's 
mind  in  generating  (as  Rowland  Williams  expresses  it) 
the  religious  atmosphere  which  Protestants  breathe, 

*  I  know  not  on  what  authority  the  familiar  jovial  couplet  has  been 
attributed  to  the  great  Reformer  :  — 

"  Wer  liebt  nicht  Wein,  Weib,  und  Gesang 

Der  bleibt  ein  Xarr  sein  Leben  lang." 

The  ascetic  spirit  had  very  far  departed,  at  all  events,  from  the  author 
who  composed  it. 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  183 

and  the  great  celibate  Apostle's  semi-ascetic  feelings 
about  women,  have  seemingly  counteracted  the  hered- 
itary predisposition  of  Saxondom  to  reverence  them. 
His  treatment  of  Marriage  (reproduced  in  the  exor- 
dium of  the  Solemnization  of  Holy  Matrimony  in  the 
English  Book  of  Common  Prayer,  and  apparently 
intended  to  show  how  unholy  are  the  sentiments 
assumed  to  form  the  usual  basis  of  that  alliance)  has 
certainly  tended  to  preserve  the  prestige  of  Scriptural 
dignity  and  authority  for  sentiments  on  such  sub- 
jects derived  from  Southern  races  and  coarser  times, 
and  which  might  else  have  died  out  ere  now  in  Teu- 
tonized  Europe.  That,  considering  the  hysterical 
behavior  of  his  male  converts,  when  "every  one 
hath  a  psalm,  hath  a  doctrine,  hath  a  tongue,  hath  a 
revelation,  hath  an  interpretation,"  *  prudence  justi- 
fied St.  Paul  in  prohibiting  female  locutions  in  public 
worship  may  be  fully  conceded.  But  the  unhappy 
petrifaction  of  his  current  directions,  whereby  (like 
so  many  other  Biblical  utterances)  they  have  become 
laws  for  all  time  and  every  divergency  of  circum- 
stance, has  been  attended  with  lamentable  conse- 
quences. No  Jewish  law-giver  ever  bade  the  Miriams 
and  Deborahs,  the  Esthers  and  Judiths,  of  his  race, 
"keep  silence,"  and  hide  their  diminished  heads  from 

*I.  Cor.  xiv.,  26.    If  this  graphic  description  had  applied  to  a  female 
assembly,  should  we  have  ever  been  allowed  to  forget  the  circumstance  ? 


184  THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN 

regard  to  "the  angels,"  or  to  anybody  else  in  or  out  of 
temple  or  camp ;  and  the  consequence  has  been  (as  a 
very  remarkable  paper  by  a  Jewish  lady  has  pointed 
out)  *  that  female  patriots,  judges,  and  prophetesses 
have  played  a  noble  and  conspicuous  part  through 
the  whole  history  of  Judaism.  But  (not  to  speak 
profanely)  St.  Paul  has  been  supposed  to  act  like 
Louis  XIV.,  when  he  forbade  that  any  more  healing 
wonders  should  be  done  at  the  tomb  of  the  Abb6 

Paris :  — 

"  De  par  le  Hoi  —  Defense  a  Dieu, 

De  faire  miracle  en  ce  lieu." 

If  it  were  to  please  Providence  to  inspire  a  woman 
with  any  of  the  gifts  of  the  prophetic  or  ministerial 
offices,  if  ever  the  promise  should  be  fulfilled  to  the 
letter  that "  your  sons  and  your  daughters  shall  proph- 
esy," and  that  the  impulse  to  speak  holy  words  were 
to  seize  her  in  the  most  natural  and  appropriate 
place,  to  wit,  in  church,  St.  Paul  is  quoted  as  author- 
ity to  check  any  such  irregular  and  unsuitable  pro- 
ceeding :  "  I  suffer  not  a  woman  to  speak  in  church." 
The  result  has  been  that,  except  among  the  Quakers 
(who  have  coolly  set  the  prohibition  aside,  and  seem- 
ingly profited  not  a  little  by  so  doing),  Christian 
rivals  to  the  heroines  of  Judaism  are  not  producible. 
During  these  last  eighteen  centuries,  among  all  the 

*«The  Hebrew  Woman,"  by  Constance  de  Rothschild  (Mrs.  Cyril 
Flower). 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  185 

millions  of  women  in  whose  hearts  the  precepts  of 
Christ  have  been  sown  and  borne  rich  fruit,  there 
may  well  have  been  a  few  whose  eloquence  and 
fervor  of  piety  would  have  influenced  the  heart  of 
men  as  much  as  a  St.  Bernard  or  a  Peter  the  Hermit, 
and  whose  words,  like  those  of  a  Tauler,  a  Fenelon, 
or  an  a  Kempis,  would  have  remained  a  spiritual 
treasure  for  all  time.  But  if  such  have  lived  and 
felt  and  thought,  and  longed  perhaps  to  speak  to 
their  fellow-men  out  of  the  abundance  of  their 
hearts,  their  mouths  have  been  effectually  stopped. 
Order  has  reigned  in  the  Churches  so  far  as  they 
were  concerned,  and  whatever  light  they  might  per- 
chance have  borne  into  the  dark  places  of  the  earth, 
instead  of  being  set  on  a  candlestick,  has  been  care- 
fully covered  up  under  a  bushel. 

Such  are,  I  venture  to  think,  the  bad  reasons  for 
the  exclusion  of  women  from  the  ministry.  Good 
ones,  however,  are  certainly  forthcoming,  if  per- 
chance, when  weighed  in  the  scale  against  the  argu- 
ments in  favor  of  such  an  innovation,  they  prove  less 
heavy.  They  are  drawn  from  circumstances,  some 
of  which  pertain  to  the  order  of  nature,  arid  can 
never  be  altered;  while  others  might  be,  or  are  al- 
ready in  process  of  change. 

The  functions  of  a  minister  of  religion,  as  under- 
stood in  modern  times  (apart  from  priestly  claims 


186  THE   FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

to  administer  sacraments  by  special  divine  commis- 
sion, with  which  we  need  not  concern  ourselves 
here),  are,  roughly  speaking,  twofold:  1st,  public 
prayer  and  preaching;  and,  2d,  pastoral  ministra- 
tions in  the  homes  of  the  members  of  the  congre- 
gation. Regarding  the  first,  women  labor  under 
several  disadvantages,  sometimes .  amounting  to  dis- 
abilities. Though  women's  voices,  when  good,  reach 
farther  than  those  of  men,  a  considerable  number 
are  deficient  in  the  physical  vocal  power  indispensa- 
ble to  make  themselves  heard  in  an  assembly  num- 
bering above  one  or  two  hundred  persons.  Nothing 
would  be  more  pitiable  and  ridiculous  than  for  one 
of  these  ladies,  whatever  might  be  her  mental  gifts, 
to  mount  a  pulpit  and,  with  feeble  voice  rising 
only  to  crack  in  an  occasional  screech,  to  attempt 
to  pour  forth  exhortations  which  three-fourths  of 
her  audience  could  not  hear,  and  under  which  the 
remainder  would  writhe  in  an  auditorial  purga- 
tory. Secondly,  there  can  be  no  question  that  the 
average  female  intellect  is  below  the  average  male 
intellect,  and  consequently  that  there  are  fewer 
women  than  men  up  to  the  mark  of  intellectual 
competence,  below  which  preaching,  however  well 
intended,  and  even  inspired  by  genuine  and  true 
feeling,  is  apt  rather  to  "  give  occasion  to  the  enemy 
to  blaspheme  "  than  to  tend  to  edifying.  If  the 


FOE   THE  MINISTRY  OF   RELIGION.  187 

foolish  things  of  the  world  often  confound  the  wise, 
the  foolish  people  in  it  provoke  and  distract  them ; 
and,  even  to  their  humblest  hearers,  many  such  well- 
meaning  silly  ones  would  be  little  else  than  the 
blind  leading  the  blind  into  a  ditch.  Lamentable 
as  it  would  be  to  hear  a  shrill  feminine  squeak 
delivering  from  the  desk  the  majestic  periods  of  Job 
and  Isaiah,  it  would  be  doubly  deplorable  to  listen 
to  a  thin  and  only  too  distinctly  audible  soprano 
enouncing  alternately  from  the  pulpit  platitudes, 
ineptitudes,  and  blunders,  such  as  memory  recalls 
only  too  keenly  to  many  of  us  as  among  the  severest 
trials  of  the  domestic  circle.  A  special  peril  in  this 
matter  also  lies  in  the  ill-omened  circumstance  that 
the  greater  the  folly  of  the  woman,  so  much  greater, 
alas!  is  generally  to  be  found  her  propensity  to 
preach  in  private,  and  therefore,  it  may  presumably 
be  dreaded,  her  proclivity  -to  extend  to  a  larger 
sphere  the  benefit  of  her  exhortations.  It  has  been 
the  observation  of  the  present  writer,  through  a 
long  experience,  that  masculine  and  feminine  folly 
usually  differ  in  this  essential  particular.  A  man 
fool  dimly  perceives  he  is  a  fool,  and  holds  his 
tongue  accordingly ;  or  (if  the  vanity  of  his  sex 
prevent  him  from  arriving  consciously  at  any  such 
conviction  or  conclusion)  he  deems  that  as  pru- 
dence is  the  better  part  of  valor,  so  is  silence  the 


188  THE   FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

proper  garb  of  wisdom,  and  that  the  less  he  wastes 
on  an  ungrateful  world  the  precious  jewels  of  his 
ideas,  the  more  credit  shall  he  have  for  those  sup- 
posed to  remain  in  the  casket  of  his  mind.  A  man 
who  talks  much  is  nine  times  out  of  ten  a  clever 
and  brilliant  person,  and  may  possibly  be  the  most 
profound  of  thinkers,  who  brings  out  of  the  inex- 
haustible treasury  of  his  imagination  things  new  and 
old.  A  woman  fool,  on  the  contrary,  usually  does 
not  find  out,  till  she  is  old  and  ugly  and  the  habit 
of  silly  chatter  is  irretrievably  settled,  that  she  is  a 
fool  at  all :  probably  for  the  simple  reason  that  the 
more  folly  she  talks,  the  more  delighted  her  male 
admirers  generally  show  themselves  with  her  dis- 
course. Even  if  she  does  not  happen  to  think  her- 
self particularly  clever  or  well-informed,  she  has 
been  taught  to  believe  that  ability  in  a  woman  is 
rather  a  defect  to  be  concealed  than  a  gift  to  be 
exhibited,  and  that,  as  the  sagacious  Chinese  proverb 
has  it,  "  The  glory  of  a  man  is  knowledge,  but  the 
glory  of  a  woman  is  to  renounce  knowledge."  Ac- 
cordingly, without  the  slightest  reticence  or  dread 
of  exposure,  she  tumbles  out  of  her  untidy  brain 
notions  as  trivial  and  mesquin  as  the  contents  of  her 
own  disorderly  work-basket,-^-  here  a  button  and 
there  a  spangle,  a  thimble,  a  bit  of  crochet,  a  string 
of  beads,  a  tangled  skein  of  silk,  and  a  little  ribbon 


FOR   THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  189 

marked  with  inches-  wherewith  to  measure  the  uni- 
verse. The  result  of  this  difference  in  the  display 
of  folly  is  naturally  to  lend  color  to  a  somewhat 
exaggerated  estimate  of  that  surplusage  of  feeble- 
ness and  frivolity  in  the  feminine  scale,  of  the  exist- 
ence of  which,  alas!  there  can  be  no  doubt,  but 
which  is  perhaps  less  than  is  supposed  out  of  pro- 
portion with  the  correlative  dulness  and  stupidity 
in  the  masculine  balance.  As  the  immortal  Mrs. 
Poyser  sums  up  the  matter,  "Women  are  fools. 
God  Almighty  made  them  so  to  match  the  men." 
Thus,  then,  two  arguments  at  least  against  admit- 
ting women  to  the  ministry  rest  on  natural  and  inevi- 
table grounds :  some  women  are  physically,  some 
other  women  mentally,  incapable  of  adequately  ful- 
filling its  duties.  And  to  these  adverse  reasons 
others  are  added  by  the  actual  though  not  inevi- 
table conditions  of  society.  Women,  up  to  the 
present  time,  have  been  almost  indefinitely  less  well 
educated  than  men,  and  only  their  superior  quick- 
ness and  tact  prevented  this  inequality  from  telling 
disastrously  in  common  life ;  while  nothing  could 
hinder  it  from  doing  so,  were  they  to  undertake 
the  office  of  public  teachers.  By  hook  or  crook, 
with  little  teaching  (and  that  teaching  generally 
fourth  or  fifth  rate  of  its  kind),  women  have  man- 
aged pretty  generally  to  scrape  together  and  store 


190  THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN 

up  in  their  memories  in  a  happy-go-lucky  way  a 
certain  quantity  of  knowledge,  useful  and  orna- 
mental enough  to  pass  muster.  Women's  culture, 
when  women  are  cultivated,  sometimes  (perhaps  we 
may  say  often)  possesses  rather  more  breadth  than 
that  of  men,  and  includes  a  good  many  topics  rarely 
included  in  the  masculine  curriculum.  It  is  there- 
fore well  suited  to  furnish  pleasure  to  the  possessor 
and  entertainment  to  her  acquaintance  and  readers ; 
but  the  accuracy  and  defmiteness  of  knowledge 
which  men  obtain,  thanks  to  their  much  abused 
classical  and  mathematical  training,  are  what  every 
ordinarily  educated  woman  with  a  grain  of  sense 
sighed  for,  till  the  day  when  the  great  movement 
for  the  Higher  Education  of  Women  reared  a  more 
fortunate  generation.  Now,  it  is  clearly  highly  de- 
sirable, if  not  absolutely  indispensable,  that  a  person 
who  may  be  called  upon  to  treat  publicly  and  didac- 
tically, if  not  controversially  —  and  let  us  hope  and 
pray  that  women  will  not  generally  take  to  contro- 
versy!—  almost  every  subject  in  the  range  of  the 
higher  interests  of  man,  who  at  least  ought  not  to 
regard  any  such  interest  as  foreign  ground,  should 
possess  not  merely  wide,  but  accurate  information, 
and  be  as  far  as  possible  above  the  liability  to  com- 
mit any  gross  blunders.  This  is  of  course  viewing 
the  subject  apart  from  any  special  theological  train- 


FOR   THE  MINISTRY  OF   RELIGION.  191 

ing  such  as  the  older  Churches  have  deemed  almost 
the  first  qualification  for  the  ministerial  office.  Even 
the  poor  Capuccini  preaching  friars,  whose  astound- 
ing ignorance  of  profane  history  and  science  affords 
inexhaustible  tales  of  merriment  in  Italy,  who  talk 
of  "  the  great  St.  Augustine  of  Hippo,  who  crowned 
King  Alfred,  who  signed  Magna  Charta,"  and  are 
wont  to  indulge  in  such  figures  of  rhetoric  as  im- 
aginary sniffs  round  the  pulpit  at  the  smell  of  the 
roasting  flesh  of  St.  Lawrence  on  his  gridiron, — 
even  these  poor  old  fellows  have  received  adequate 
instruction  in  the  doctrines,  the  legends,  and  the 
moral  and  penitential  systems  of  their  Church. 
Proverbially  ignorant  as  are  the  Greek  Popes  and 
the  Nestorian,  Coptic,  and  Maronite  priests,  they, 
too,  are  perfectly  well  "up"  in  all  those  recondite 
dogmas  which  are  supposed  to  be  their  peculiar  con- 
cern, and  .can  tell  with  unerring  certainty  whether 
the  Second  Divine  Person  had  two  natures  or  two 
wills,  or  only  one  of  each,  or  whether  the  Third 
positively  proceeded  from  the  First  only,  according 
to  Greek  orthodoxy,  or  from  the  First  and  Second, 
according  to  that  of  Rome  and  Canterbury.  Nearer 
home,  of  course,  theological  education  is  a  wider  and 
more  serious  matter.  If  young  priests  at  Maynooth 
are  taught  the  astronomical  system  which  makes  the 
sun  go  round  the  earth,  and  the  moral  system  ~oi 


192  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

Peter  Dens,  which  is  nearly  as  completely  the 
reverse  of  truth,  they  still  receive  an  enormous 
amount  of  something  which  goes  by  the  name  of 
instruction,  and  in  the  matters  of  scholastic  theology 
and  casuistry  are  probably  qualified  to  beat  a  great 
many  eminent  D.D.'s  of  Oxford  and  Cambridge. 
Here  in  England,  and  in  Scotland  also,  every  Church, 
Established  and  Dissenting,  has  its  college  or  col- 
leges for  training  its  clergy,  either  apart  from  or 
together  with  students  intended  for  lay  professions ; 
and,  without  the  degree  or  certificate  afforded  by 
such  institution,  the  entry  into  the  ministry  is 
barred.  Christendom,  in  short,  has,  like  Judaism, 
its  "Schools  of  the  Prophets";  and  nobody  is  in- 
vited to  prophesy,  even  if  he  be  pious  and  gifted 
as  John  Bunyan,  who  has  not  passed  through  them 
ind  learned  his  lesson. 

The  necessity  for  this  theological  training,  so  far 
is  it  concerns  the  insurance  of  orthodox  doctrine 
from  the  acolyte  when  he  becomes  a  preacher,  of 
course  falls  to  the  ground  when  we  contemplate  an 
order  of  things  quite  outside  the  orthodox  churches, 
and  such  as  it  is  not  to  be  anticipated  they  will  sanc- 
tion for  many  a  day.  Our  female  preacher  is  by  the 
hypothesis,  for  the  present  at  all  events,  either  quite 
irregularly  connected  with  the  orthodox  sects,  a  Min- 
ister Unattached  or  Amateur  Pastor  (and  some  such 


FOE  THE  MINISTEY  OF  EELIGION.  193 

there  are  at  this  moment  doing  a  vast  deal  of  good 
work,  e.g.,  Miss  Catherine  Marsh  and  the  sister  of 
Mr.  Spurgeon) ;  or  if  ever  officially  recognized,  and 
a  professional  minister,  then  as  belonging  to  some 
heterodox  communion,  such  as  the  Salvation  Army : 
or  those  in  America,  which  profit  by  the  services 
of  the  Rev.  Phoebe  Hanaford,  the  Rev.  Antoinette 
Brown,  and  the  late  Rev.  Celia  Burleigh;  and  the 
Unitarian  congregation  at  Melbourne,  which  honored 
itself  by  choosing  for  their  pastor  Martha  Turner,  a 
lady  whose  great  abilities  and  noble  spiritual  feeling 
seem  to  me  to  hold  out  the  very  example  we  seek  of 
what  a  woman  in  the  pulpit  may  and  ought  to  be.* 
No  necessity  exists  compelling  a  female  preacher 
who  enlists  under  the  banner  of  religious  freedom  to 
undergo  the  particular  mental  drill  which  qualifies 
the  Romanist  or  Anglo-Catholic  clergyman  for  the 
performance  of  all  the  peculiar  intellectual  labors 
and  ccmbats  necessary  to  his  office,  and  included  in 
the  duty  of  honestly  believing  exactly  all  which  his 
Church  believes,  and  being  equipped  to  do  battle 
with  anybody  who  believes  anything  less  or  anything 
more.  But  is  there  on  this  account  less  reason  that 
the  candidate  for  another  kind  of  ministry  should 

*  A  sermon  by  this  lady  on  "The  Sacrament  of  Life,"  preached  and 
printed  at  Melbourne,  would  amply  justify,  I  think,  to  every  reader  the 
above  remark. 


194  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

undertake  less  severe  studies  and  go  through  a  less 
complete  mental  training  than  the  embryo  priest, 
Latin  or  Anglican?  The  reverse  has  been  most 
wisely  maintained  by  the  Unitarian  body  in  this 
country,  whose  scheme  of  theological  culture  (if  the 
present  writer  may  presume  to  estimate  it)  is  wider 
and  deeper  than  that  which  is  demanded  to  qualify 
the  possessor  for  the  See  of  Canterbury.  The 
teacher  of  religion  who  is  to  be  something  more  than 
the  expounder  of  a  ready-prepared  catechism, —  who 
is  to  lead  his  flock  not  merely  into  one  particular 
paddock,  and  to  water  them  exclusively  at  one  par- 
ticular pond,  but  into  every  field  of  sweet  and  whole- 
some herbage,  and  beside  every  stream  of  living 
waters, —  whose  duty  it  will  be  to  pluck  up  the  cruel 
brambles,  and  clear  away  the  piles  of  stones  of 
doubts  and  difficulties  which' grow  and  are  flung  by 
careless  hands  along  the  path  of  faith  and  life, —  such 
a  teacher  ought  to  be  furnished  with  every  aid  which 
learning  can  offer.  Above  all,  I  should  hold  that  a 
woman  who  should  venture  to  assume  this  high  and 
arduous  task  specially  needs  such  equipment,  since, 
for  a  long  time  to  come,  she  must  expect  to  be  more 
than  others  the  mark  of  question  and  criticism ;  and 
the  very  eagerness  of  her  own  mind  may  (unless 
weighted  by  solid  erudition)  carry  her  more  quickly 
and  more  remotely  astray.  Every  one  must  have 


FOB   THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  195 

noticed  how  there  are  some  persons  full  of  original- 
ity and  mother-wit,  who  continually  fancy  they  are 
making  fresh  observations  and  theories,  while  their 
next  neighbor,  who  has  never  had  an  idea  properly 
his  own,  can  tell  them  off  on  his  fingers  what 
ancient  sage  first  made  their  observation,  and  when 
and  by  whom  in  the  Middle  Ages  their  theory  was 
broached,  and  how  it  was  refuted  and  abandoned 
by  all  thinking  people  several  centuries  ago.  The 
merely  original  man  makes  himself  ridiculous  for 
want  of  learning,  and  is,  in  fact,  always  beginning 
de  novo  at  the  bottom  of  the  ladder  of  human 
thought.  The  mere  scholar  is  nothing  better  than  a 
Conversations-Lexicon,  and  never  exercises  any  in- 
fluence except  that  of  a  useful  drag  on  the  ideas  of 
his  friends  when  they  are  going  down-hill.  The  true 
teacher  must  indispensably  combine  both  the  gift  of 
originality  and  the  acquirement  of  such  stores  of 
knowledge  as  shall  enable  him  to  trace  doctrines  and 
hypotheses  to  their  sources, —  to  know  what  has 
been  said  for  and  against  them  by  the  greater  think- 
ers of  the  world  who  have  dealt  with  them, —  and,  in 
a  word,  to  know  exactly  how  far  he  is  or  is  not  a 
heretic,  and  not  be  (as  is  the  commonest  of  cases)  a 
heinous  heretic  while  he  believes  himself  strictly  or- 
thodox, and  strictly  orthodox  and  even  commonplace 
when  he  enunciates  what  he  fondly  conceives  to  be  a 


196  THE  FITNESS   OP   WOMEtt 

bold  and  startling  heresy.  All  this  applies  (for  rea- 
sons too  obvious  to  need  animadversion)  pre-emi- 
nently to  teachers  of  the  more  impulsive  sex.  Ac- 
cordingly, we  must  admit  that  the  argument  against 
female  ministers  of  religion,  founded  on  the  lower 
educational  status  of  women  at  present,  is,  so  far  as 
it  goes,  perfectly  valid. 

Lastly,  there  is  an  argument  which  I  imagine 
would  half-consciously  influence  many  serious-minded 
people  against  the  admission  of  women  to  such  an 
office.  Women  are  (thanks  to  all  sorts  of  causes, 
historical,  political,  personal,  with  which  we  need  not 
concern  ourselves)  actually  much  deconsidered  by 
men.  Would  not  their  deconaideration  be  reflected 
on  Religion  itself,  were  they  to  become  its  authorized 
ministers  ?  With  enormous  labor,  the  Broad  Church 
school  has  been  trying  to  efface  the  stamp  of  effemi- 
nacy from  their  order,  to  cultivate  "  muscular  Chris- 
tianity," and  make  laymen  of  the  order  of  the  author 
of  Sword  and  G-own  remember  that  a  priest  is 
not  necessarily  an  old  woman.  If  many  women,  old 
or  young,  enter  the  ministry,  will  not  this  effort  to 
redeem  the  character  of  the  order  be  entirely  thrown 
away,  and  the  impression  become  quite  ineffaceable 
that  Manliness  and  Godliness  are  two  orbs  always 
seen  in  opposition,  and  never  in  conjunction?  I 
confess  I  should  feel  such  a  fear  as  this  to  form 


FOE   THE   MINISTRY  OF   RELIGION.  197 

a  very  cogent  argument,  were  it  altogether  well 
founded. 

Let  us  now,  before  attempting  to  discuss  the  pos- 
sible advantages  to  be  set  against  all  these  objections 
to  the  religious  ministry  of  women,  briefly  run  back 
over  the  heads  we  have  passed,  and  see  if  there  be 
not  some  answer  to  each  objection,  or  at  least  some 
hope  that  its  force  might  with  time  and  care  be  neu- 
tralized. 

First,  there  was  noticed  the  ascetic  feeling,  in- 
herited from  the  old  monks,  of  the  essential  unholi- 
ness  of  women,  and  their  consequent  unworthiness 
co  meddle  with  sacred  things.  This  idea  has  proba- 
bly occurred  for  the  first  time  to  many  an  English 
lady  when  she  has  penetrated  by  chance  into  some 
hallowed  precinct,  some  tempting  and  shadowy  clois- 
ter, of  a  monastery  in  Italy  or  Syria,  and  has  been 
driven  out  tumultuously  by  a  whole  flock  of  cowled 
and  sandalled  brethren,  cackling  like  so  many  geese 
at  the  intrusion  of  a  cat  into  a  hen-house.  Per- 
haps, as  at  Vallombrosa  among  the  Apennines,  or 
St.  Saba  in  the  desert,  she  has  seen  the  gentlemen 
of  her  party  courteously  received  and  comfortably 
lodged  within  the  noble  walls  of  the  convent,  while 
she  has  been  left  to  such  nocturnal  repose  as  might 
be  found  in  a  flea-haunted  pavilion  outside,  or  in  her 
tent  pitched  in  a  valley  of  centipedes.  She  has  been 


198  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

accustomed  to  think  of  women  generally  as  of  the 
types  common  in  decent  English  society,  a  little 
strait-laced,  or  perhaps  a  little  "  gushing,"  as  the  case 
may  be ;  and  she  has  very  honestly  taken  it  for 
granted  that,  if  there  be  any  serious  harm  in  the 
world,  it  is  the  opposite  sex  who  are  principally  to 
blame.  Suddenly,  it  is  revealed  to  her  that,  by  a 
large  number  of  her  fellow-creatures,  she  herself 
and  all  her  female  belongings, —  her  eminently  re- 
spectable governesses,  the  Misses  Prunes  and  Prism ; 
her  dear  old  grandmother,  Mrs.  Goody-Good ;  and 
her  majestic  aunt,  Lady  Bountiful, —  all  are  looked 
upon  as  little  better  than  so  many  Succubi  of 
Satan,  sent  to  lure  the  souls  of  those  ridiculous  old 
monks  to  destruction.  The  shock  has  not  rarely 
produced  a  peal  of  ungovernable  laughter  such  as 
those  hoary  cloisters  had  never  echoed  ere  profane 
Saxon  Balmorals  trod  their  pavement ;  but,  when  la 
pazza  Signorina  Inglese  has  retired  to  her  hotel  or 
her  tent,  she  finds  that  a  new  and  very  unpleasant 
light  has  been  thrown  on  matters  whereon  she  had 
never  reflected  before.  Modern  English  Ritualism 
and  Monasticism  are  doing  their  best,  in  more  ways 
than  need  now  be  specified,  to  introduce  into  English 
life  these  Oriental  and  gross  ideas  about  women,  that 
pseudo-purity  which  is  most  impure.  In  so  far  as 
they  prevail,  they  will  do  us  an  injury  quite  incalcu- 


FOR  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  199 

lable.  Needless  to  say  that,  to  people  trained  in 
such  a  school,  a  female  minister  of  religion  would  be 
a  monstrous  thing.  Almost  as  well  might  the  creat- 
ure trill  out  the  melodies  of  La  Traviata  or  La 
Grrande  Duchesse,  or  perform  her  part  in  a  ballet  in 
the  costume  of  a  sylph !  The  view  of  womanhood 
taken  by  these  ultra-sanctified  persons  and  by  the 
most  cynical  and  profligate  old  roues  is  practically 
the  same.  Surely,  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  all  this 
worse  than  folly  will  be  swept  away  in  the  blast  of 
public  impatience  and  indignation  which  sooner  or 
later  must  burst,  like  a  breath  of  wholesome  autumn 
storm,  through  the  incense-laden  atmosphere  of  Rit- 
ualism, and  consign  to  the  four  winds  all  its  trum- 
pery of  millinery,  chandlery,  and  upholstery,  and  the 
thoroughly  base  and  materialistic  ideas  which  have 
come  in  along  with  them  ! 

Secondly,  among  the  bad  reasons  for  the  exclusion 
of  women  from  the  pulpit,  we  have  referred  to  St. 
Paul's  dictum,  "  I  suffer  not  a  woman  to  speak  in 
church."  Whatever  high  degree  of  human  wisdom 
we  must  all  attribute  to  the  greatest  of  the  apostles, 
or  even  divine  authority,  as  the  orthodox  hypothesis 
of  inspiration  would  give  to  his  words,  there  is  abso- 
lutely no  ground  at  all  for  the  assumption  that, 
because  he  forbade  women  to  affront  public  oppro- 
brium by  preaching  when  women  lived  habitually 


200  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

shut  up,  each  in  her  gynaeceum,  he  would  likewise 
have  forbidden  them  to  offer  religious  exhortations 
in  a  sacred  place,  when  public  sentiment  has  become 
reconciled  to  their  appearance  in  the  streets,  on  the 
stage,  in  the  lecture-room,  and  even  on  the  platform. 
The  coolness,  indeed,  wherewith  the  most  orthodox 
persons  always  do  practically  take  for  granted  that 
Scriptural  precepts,  however  rigid  in  form  and  seem- 
ingly intended  by  their  authors  for  perpetual  observ- 
ance, are  to  be  set  aside  without  scruple,  as  applying 
to  a  bygone  state  of  things,  when  they  do  not  chime 
in  with  their  own  inclinations  and  prejudices,  is 
only  to  be  paralleled  by  the  tenacity  wherewith  they 
maintain  their  authority  under  every  vicissitude, 
when  they  happen  to  coincide  with  them.  Let  any 
one  who  quotes  St.  Paul's  incidental  remark  about 
women  speaking  in  church  be  called  on  to  avow 
how  far  he  has  taken  to  heart  the  solemn  decree 
issued  in  the  Encyclical  Letter  of  the  one  great 
Council  of  the  assembled  apostles,  in  the  awfully 
mysterious  words,  "It  seemed  good  unto  the  Holy 
Ghost  and  to  ws"  (as  if  these  were  two  separate 
opinions)  "to  lay  upon  you  (the  Gentile  world) 
no  greater  burden  than  these  necessary  things, —  to 
abstain  from  meats  offered  to  idols,  .  .  .  and  from 
things  strangled,  and  from  blood."  Lives  there  a 
modern  Christian  whose  conscience  would  in  the 


FOB  "THE  MINISTKY   OF  KELIGION.  201 

smallest  degree  be  troubled  by  taking  the  rice  and 
ghee  from  a  Hindu  temple,  eating  a  rabbit  strangled 
in  a  snare,  or  partaking  of  a  black-pudding  or  a 
Bologna  sausage  ? 

Passing  now  to  the  more  reasonable  reasons  against 
admitting  women  to  the  ministry, —  the  natural  and 
incurable  disabilities,  physical  and  mental,  under 
which  not  a  few  of  them  labor, —  the*  answer  comes 
at  once  to  hand.  Those  among  them  who  are  un- 
fitted for  the  office  must  not  undertake  it,  any  more 
than  dumb  or  stuttering  or  imbecile  men.  There 
is  no  more  difficulty  in  exclusion  in  one  case  than 
in  the  other,  though  there  may  be  a  few  more 
persons  necessarily  excluded. 

As  to  education,  the  case  is  much  more  serious. 
Certainly,  unless  women  can  receive  the  same  solid 
and  extensive  training  as  male  theological  students 
(rather  more  strict  and  rigid  than  less  so),  to  make 
up  for  what  may  have  been  wanting  of  exactness  in 
their  girlish  school-room  education,  the  appearance 
in  our  pulpits  of  a  number  of  female  heads  lightly 
stored  with  learning  or  logic  would  be  to  the  last 
degree  ill-omened.  But  is  there  the  smallest  neces- 
sity why  this  should  be  ?  If  the  desire  of  a  woman 
to  devote  herself  to  religious  work  were  of  any 
depth  or  worth  consideration,  she  would  not  only  be 
willing,  but  crave,  to  pass  through  the  severest 


202  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

studies,  to  fit  herself  to  the  utmost  of  her  abilities 
for  so  high  and  sacred  a  task ;  and  it  is  no  longer  an 
hypothesis,  but  a  demonstrated  fact,  that  if  women 
choose  to  study  and  have  the  fair  opportunity  of 
doing  so,  there  are  not  a  few  of  them  capable  at  all 
events  of  attaining  to  those  levels  whereon  men  of 
the  learned  professions  habitually  take  their  stand. 
If  a  few  fickle  or  weak-minded  women  were  to  enter 
as  students  such  an  institution,  let  us  say,  as  Man- 
chester New  College,  they  would  be  very  speedily 
"  choked  off,"  and  no  more  harm  would  be  done  than 
by  the  scores  of  youths  "plucked"  at  Oxford  and 
Cambridge,  and  led  to  change  their  programme  of 
life.  Those  women,  on  the  contrary,  who  should 
pass  successfully  through  such  an  intellectual  and 
moral  sieve,  might  thenceforth  be  very  safely  trusted. 
Again  :  the  fear  that  Religion  itself  might  come 
to  be  deconsidered,  as  a  result  of  the  deconsideration 
of  the  sex  of  its  ministers,  must  prove  groundless,  if, 
instead  of  bringing  a  fresh  element  of  weakness  into 
preaching  and  prayer,  it  should  prove  that  (as  I 
shall  hope  presently  to  show)  women  are  likely  to 
pour  a  new  stream  of  life  into  what  has  so  often 
become  dry  and  unprofitable.  After  all,  the  inner 
heart  of  humanity  honors  in  its  very  core  spiritual 
graces,  over  the  physical,  the  intellectual,  and  even 
the  moral.  Not  the  conquerors,  not  the  philoso- 


FOR   THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  203 

pliers,  not  even  those  who  have  displayed  most 
virtue  apart  from  religion,  have  been  adored  and 
deified  among  men,  but  the  prophets  and  saints  who 
have  ascended  the  mountain-peaks  of  Prayer  and 
thrown  open  the  windows  of  Heaven. 

Now,  as  we  look  back  over  the  Christian  centuries 
during  which  the  spiritual,  God-loving,  anti-carnal 
impulse  sent  forth  from  Judsea  has  passed  on,  trans- 
mitted in  waves  of  emotion  from  age  to  age  and 
land  to  land,  does  it  not  seem  probable  that  among 
those  who  have  received  it  most  fully,  and  might 
have  helped  its  transmission  most  effectually,  there 
have  been  thousands  of  women  ?  In  effect,  history 
notoriously  shows  that,  in  the  apostolic  time  and 
at  the  period  of  the  conversion  of  Europe,  at  least 
half  the  work  achieved  was  due  to  the  ardor  where- 
with noble  ladies  not  a  few  took  up  the  task 
of  introducing  and  disseminating  Christian  ideas 
through  courts  and  camps.  But,  when  the  age  for 
this  kind  of  female  patronage  was  over,  the  powers 
of  women  to  aid  the  cause  which  so  many  of  them 
have  had  next  to  their  innermost  hearts  have  been 
narrowed  within  the  walls  of  the  home  or  even  of 
the  cloister.  I  do  not  doubt  that  this  home  in- 
fluence of  women  has  indeed  been  incalculably  great 
and  beneficent.  It  is  hard  to  conceive  what  would 
be  the  sort  of  religion  remaining  in  an  island  colo- 


204  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

nized  by  men  only,  and  with  a  population  recruited 
only  by  boys  too  young  to  remember  a  mother's 
care.  The  chances  might  lie  between  a  society  of 
Trappists,  or  a  herd  such  as  the  gold-diggers  of  a 
"Roaring  Camp"  in  a  Californian  gulch.  But, 
because  the  religious  influence  of  women  in  their 
homes  has  been  inestimably  beneficial,  is  it,  I  ask, 
any  reason  for  resting  satisfied  that  they  should  ex- 
ercise no  such  influence  outside  their  doors  ?  Surely 
there  might  have  been  prevision  of  just  such  a  state 
of  things  as  has  existed  now  for  more  than  a  thou- 
sand years  in  Christendom,  in  the  warning  of  the 
great  Founder  of  Christianity  that  a  light  (when  we 
are  so  happy  as  to  possess  a  light)  should  be  set  on 
a  candlestick  and  not  under  a  bushel.  If  ever  the 
time  comes  when  the  spiritual  home  influence  of 
women  is  allowed  to  radiate  into  the  outer  circle  of 
public  life,  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that  the 
inestimable  element  of  spirituality  will  make  itself 
felt,  touching  the  hearts  of  men  with  new  softness, 
awakening  their  consciences  with  the  power  of 
mother-like  gentleness,  and  inspiring  quite  a  new 
reverence,  alike  for  women  and  for  religion. 

"  Ah ! "  it  will  be  said,  "  this  is  all  very  well,  if 
women  should,  by  some  happy  chance,  succeed  well 
as  preachers  and  ministers.  If,  on  the  contrary,  they 
fail,  and  make  a  miserable  fiasco  of  their  attempt, 


FOR   THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  205 

what  ridicule  will  they  not  draw  on  the  most  sacred 
things !  Is  it  wise,  is  it  allowable,  to  incur  such  a 
risk?" 

Feeling  a  good  deal  of  sympathy  with  such  an 
alarm  as  this,  having  a  terror  (possibly  exaggerated) 
of  some  day  undergoing  the  frightful  experience  of 
listening,  in  a  place  of  worship  from  which  I  could 
not  decently  escape,  to  the  ignorant,  shallow,  dog- 
matic folly  which  it  has  been  my  occasional  penance 
to  hear  from  women  elsewhere,  and  which  has, 
undoubtedly,  a  character  of  its  own  still  more  ig- 
norant, more  shallow,  and  more  dogmatic  than  any 
folly  commonly  to  be  heard  from  men,  I  here  humbly 
confess  that  for  many  years  such  a  possibility  has 
with  me  almost  outweighed  the  actual  probability 
that  women  would  in  general  fulfil  the  duties  of  the 
ministry  exceptionally  well.  But  longer  reflection 
has  tended  much  to  remove  my  fears,  while  it  has 
strengthened  my  hopes.  In  the  first  place,  I  look 
with  extreme  confidence  to  such  a  sifting  process  as 
a  good  theological  college  course  would  inevitably 
effect,  to  exclude  from  concurrence  all  the  frivolous, 
the  half-hearted,  the  weak-minded, —  all  those  women, 
in  short,  who  should  not  prove  capable  of  strong 
and  steady  mental  labor,  and  willing  to  undergo  it 
for  several  consecutive  years.  From  such  as  should 
pass  triumphantly  through  an  ordeal  of  this  kind, 


206  THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN 

nothing  very  outrageous  in  the  way  of  folly  or  con- 
temptible in  the  way  of  feminine  "  twaddle  "  would 
need  to  be  apprehended.  And,  again,  there  is  a 
second  and  very  satisfactory  ground  for  reassurance. 
Female  ministers  will  certainly  not  (at  all  events 
for  a  very  long  time  to  come)  be  appointed  to 
lecture  us  by  any  despotic  authority.  They  cannot, 
indeed,  be  ministers  at  all,  unless  some  of  us  dis- 
tinctly desire  them  to  minister  for  our  particular 
benefit.  By  a  happy  decree  of  fate,  it  takes  at  least 
two  or  three  persons  at  any  time  to  form  a  congre- 
gation. There  must  be  the  hearers  of  the  discourse 
as  well  as  the  speaker;  and,  as  even  the  sternest 
sticklers  for  the  rights  of  women  are  not  likely  to 
proceed  so  far  as  to  demand  compulsory  attendance 
at  female  preachments,  there  will  always  remain 
open  a  door  of  hope  and  refuge  whereby  the  op- 
pressed may  go  free.  The  same  argument  applies 
in  this  case  as  to  the  everlastingly  reproduced  fallacy 
about  the  franchise  ;  namely,  that,  if  their  political 
disabilities  be  removed,  women  will  invade  the 
benches  of  St.  Stephen's.  As  nobody  can  ever  be 
elected  an  M.P.,  unless  he  or  she  find  a  majority  of 
some  constituency  to  choose  him  or  her  as  the  best 
candidate,  so  neither  can  anybody  become  a  min- 
ister in  one  of  the  free  churches,  unless  he  or  she 
find  a  congregation  ready  to  "sit  under"  him  or 


FOB   THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  207 

her,  as  a  tolerable  preacher.  In  either  case,  the 
woman  who  could  so  singularly  impress  the  majority 
of  electors  *  or  of  parishioners  with  the  conviction 
of  her  supreme  fitness  as  to  induce  them  to  choose 
her  for  the  political  or  religious  office  would  be, 
undoubtedly,  so  very  remarkable  a  person  that  it 
would  be  ten  thousand  pities  the  world  should  be 
deprived  of  her  services. 

Let  us  now  turn  to  the  other  side  of  the  shield. 
Having  discussed  the  validity  of  the  arguments 
against  the  admission  of  women  to  the  ministry,  let 
us  see  what  is  to  be  said  directly  in  favor  of  such  an 
innovation. 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  obvious  that  women  have 
certain  special  aptitudes  and  qualifications  (as  well 
as  the  above-named  inaptitudes)  for  such  an  office. 
We  have  been  hitherto  speaking  as  if  the  work  of 
a  minister  lay  almost  exclusively  in  the  pulpit  and 
reading-desk;  but  we  must  remember  that  a  very 
large  and  very  important  part  of  it  lies  also  in  the 
homes  of  the  members  of  the  congregation,  in  the 
hour  of  their  sorrows  and  difficulties,  their  sick- 
nesses, doubts,  repentances,  death.  Can  any  one 
doubt  that  the  tender  and  ready  sympathies  of 

•In  the  case  of  the  M.P.,  this  would  need  to  be  a  majority  of  men, 
seeing  that  the  whole  female  contingent  of  qualified  voters  will  only  (if 
admitted)  add  about  a  fifth  or  sixth  to  the  register. 


208  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

women,  and  their  superior  tact  and  discernment  of 
character,  their  natural  tendency  to  soothe  and  ex- 
hort rather  than  to  upbraid  or  threaten,  are  quali- 
ties more  valuable  for  such  service  than  any  which 
men,  however  pious,  well-meaning,  and  learned  in 
casuistry,  usually  bring  to  such  tasks  ?  As  a  matter 
of  fact,  women  do,  instinctively,  perform  the  office 
of  ministering  angels  on  these  occasions  all  over  the 
land,  without  waiting  for  any  license  or  consecra- 
tion; while  many  of  the  best  of  the  clergy  either 
suffer  all  their  days  from  unconquerable  shyness 
and  the  sense  of  their  own  want  of  tact,  or  run 
speedily  into  the  ruts  of  professional  consolations 
and  exhortations  in  formal  phraseology,  meaning 
little  or  nothing  to  speaker  or  hearer.  Of  all  the 
irritating  —  I  might  say  maddening  —  things  in 
human  life,  there  is  nothing  worse  than  to  be  ad- 
dressed in  the  hour  of  mortal  agony  and  despair, 
when  our  hearts,  riven  to  the  core,  could  scarcely 
bear  an  angel's  touch,  by  a  smug,  self-satisfied  person- 
age, who  inflicts  on  us  his  cut-and-dried  consolations 
and  exhortations  to  perfect  quiescence  and  cheerful 
resignation;  all  the  time  revealing,  by  every  word 
and  gesture,  how  utterly  incapable  he  is  of  compre- 
hending even  the  shadow  of  our  grief.  It  would  be 
difficult  to  estimate  how  many  people  (especially  the 
intelligent  men  of  the  humbler  classes,  who  are  the 


FOR  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  209 

principal  victims  of  these  tormentors), —  men  who 
would  have  suffered  themselves  to  be  led  with 
childlike  submission  by  any  wise  and  loving  hand, 
even  through  the  wicket-gate  of  prayer  and  repent- 
ance, to  the  heavenly  way, —  have  been,  on  the 
contrary,  goaded  by  tactless  parsons  into  hardness 
and  rebellion.  It  is  real,  genuine,  spontaneous 
sympathy  which  alone  can  authorize  any  one  to 
approach  the  sacred  borders  of  a  great  sorrow.  Can 
any  one  doubt  that  women  would,  as  a  general  rule, 
feel  this  more  tenderly,  more  genuinely  than  men  ? 
The  fear  would  be  that  the  strain  on  the  heart  of  a 
good  woman,  minister  of  a  large  congregation,  would 
be  so  great  as  very  sensibly  to  tell  upon  health  and 
life. 

Further,  outside  the  region  of  sentiment,  and  even 
in  the  intellectual  way,  so  far  as  it  concerns  social 
influence,  a  woman  has  special  facilities.  If  she 
have  extensive  knowledge  (and  I  am  presuming  she 
will  have  acquired  a  good  deal  before  entering  the 
ministry),  it  will  generally  be  more  ready  to  hand 
than  that  of  a  man.  Her  humor,  if  she  possesses  a 
grain  of  that  precious  quality,  will  have  the  great 
advantage,  in  all  wordy  skirmishing,  of  being  play- 
ful, quick  as  lightning,  and  always  at  command, — 
not  like  the  ponderous  satire  which  takes  an  hour  to 
get  out  of  its  sheath,  or  the  peculiarly  masculine 
type  of  wit  which  the  owner  — * 


210  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

"  Beareth  not  about, 
As  if  afraid  to  use  it  out, 
Except  on  holidays  or  so, 
As  men  their  best  apparel  do." 

Her  logic  —  if  by  happy  circumstance  she  has  really 
trained  her  mind  to  work  logically  —  will  not  lose 
the  famous  feminine  faculty  for  springing  to  the  top 
of  the  stairs  while  the  man  is  steadily  walking  up 
the  steps,  because  she  has  acquired  the  power  of  rec- 
ognizing whether  she  be  on  the  right  landing  or  the 
wrong. 

Regarding  the  rhetorical  faculties  of  women,  I 
may  first  remark  that,  by  a  well-known  law  of 
acoustics,  a  female  voice  will,  if  equally  strong, 
reach  further  and  be  audible  more  clearly  at  a  dis- 
tance than  that  of  a  man;  and,  for  some  kinds  of 
eloquence,  at  all  events,  its  softer  and  purer  tones 
will  probably  find  their  way  most  easily  to  the  heart. 
What  her  actual  powers  of  oratory  may  be  is  one  of 
the  problems  of  the  future;  but  the  experience  of 
feminine  public  speaking  during  the  last  few  years 
seems  to  point  to  a  curious  but  not  inexplicable  fact, 
—  namely,  that,  given  the  same  ideas,  a  woman  will 
generally  express  them  more  easily  than  a  man,  at 
least  than  an  Englishman.  This  gift  of  facile  and 
appropriate  expression  is  obviously  one  dependent 
on  a  special  faculty  of  the  brain  (the  loss  of  which 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  211 

constitutes  aphasia),  and  is  very  variously  distrib- 
uted among  races,  and  also,  I  think,  between  the 
sexes.  Oratory,  which  is  dependent  upon  it  for  its 
machinery,  as  a  pianist  on  his  fingering,  is  prover- 
bially rare  among  men  of  our  nation,  though,  when 
it  does  exist,  it  seems  to  reach  sometimes  to  the 
climax  of  power  and  grandeur.  Englishwomen,  on 
the  contrary  (so  far  as  we  yet  may  guess),  possess 
more  often  the  ready-wordedness,  the  fluency  and 
verve  of  speech,  of  the  Celt  or  the  Italian.  Either 
the  feminine  nervous  temperament  is  favorable  to 
this  faculty,  or  (as  I  would  rather  imagine  to  be  the 
case)  the  root  of  the  difference  lies  in  the  region  of 
sentiment,  and  women  speak  more  fluently  because 
they  are  more  apt  to  be  carried  away  by  interest  in 
their  subject  or  sympathy  with  their  audience.  The 
dread  of  making  himself  ridiculous  by  stammering, 
by  talking  injudiciously,  or  making  a  mistake  of 
any  kind,  is  so  deeply  ingrained  in  the  mind  of  the 
ordinary  English  gentleman  that,  if  one  —  not  a 
barrister  or  clergyman,  and  consequently  not  inured 
to  the  sound  of  his  own  voice  —  be  called  on  sud- 
denly to  return  thanks  at  a  wedding-breakfast,  he 
will,  nine  times  out  of  ten,  stutter  and  hum-and- 
haw,  and,  after  putting  every  one  on  thorns,  will 
end  by  making  some  extraordinarily  malapropos 
joke,  like  the  celebrated  one  of  Lord  Feenix  in 


212  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

Dombey  and  Son.  Or,  if  he  be  aware  overnight 
that  he  will  be  called  on  to  address  his  own  tenants 
on  the  morrow,  his  slumbers  will  be  considerably 
less  sound  than  if  he  had  been  warned  he  must  go 
out  and  fight  a  duel  at  sixteen  paces.  As  to  an 
Englishman  taking  kindly  to  public  speaking  when 
advanced  in  life,  so  miraculous  an  event,  I  believe, 
is  scarcely  on  record. 

Nearly  the  contrary  of  all  this  holds  true  as 
regards  women.  Those  among  them  who  are  will- 
ing to  speak  in  public  seem  to  be  carried  away  the 
moment  they  begin  by  feelings  which  leave  little 
room  for  self-reflection,  whatever  pangs  of  shyness 
and  diffidence  they  may  have  endured  beforehand.* 
But  is  it  not  very  superfluous  to  expatiate  on  the 
special  gifts  of  speech  assigned  by  nature  to  woman- 
kind, since  in  all  ages  their  proneness  to  over-exert 
them  has  been  the  theme  of  jest  and  satire,  and  at 
no  very  remote  date  hostelries  were  adorned  by  the 
sign  of  the  "  Good  Woman,"  meaning  a  woman  with 
no  tongue ;  penal  laws  were  in  force  against  the 


*  This  at  least  is  the  impression  left  on  me  by  the  female  speakers  (some 
twenty  perhaps)  whom  I  have  chanced  to  hear.  I  never  knew  one  of  them 
"  hum  "  or  "  haw,"  or  stammer,  or  break  down,  even  when  (as  in  one  very 
remarkable  case)  the  gentle  and  learned  speaker  had  never  addressed  an 
audience  till  the  occasion,  when  she  had  already  passed  middle  life. 
Among  the  most  remarkable  phenomena  of  the  present  day,  I  reckon  the 
preaching  of  Mrs.  Booth,  the  wife  of  the  General  of  the  Salvation  Army, 


THE  MINISTEY  OF  BELIGIOK.  213 

creature  (now  happily  classified  among  the  Extinct 
Mammalia),  the  Common  Scold ;  and  even  tomb- 
stones were  enli vened  by  a  sort  of  dig  at  the  sleeper 
beneath,  as  in  the  case  of  the  celebrated  Arabella 
Young,  whose  death  is  specified  as  the  date  when  she 
"  began  to  hold  her  tongue  "  ?  Perhaps  it  is  not 
unjust  to  entertain  the  suspicion  that  masculine  wit 
may  sometimes  have  proved  rather  tardy  in  parrying 
the  thrusts  of  that  "little  member,"  which  we  all 
know  is  sharpened  in  so  terrible  a  furnace,  and  that 
the  ponderous  sarcasms  recorded  against  its  misuse 
may  be  likened  to  the  boulder-stones  thrown  by 
Polyphemus  after  the  retreating  and  exultant 
Greeks. 

Joke  or  no  joke,  it  is  quite  certain  that  women 
are  even  exceptionally  endowed  with  several,  if  not 
all,  of  the  qualities  necessary  to  oratory.  The  origi- 
nality and  depth  of  their  ideas  and  the  culture  they 
have  received  may  in  many  cases  be  open  questions ; 
but  there  can  be  no  doubt  at  all  that,  when  they 
have  got  the  ideas,  they  will  find  out  remarkably 
well  how  to  express  them. 

It  is  time  now  to  pass  to  the  graver  part  of  our 
subject, —  the  value  which  may  attach  to  women's 

The  combination  of  fervent  zeal  with  practical  good  sense  in  her  extern  • 
pore  discourses  must  be  admired  even  by  those  who  differ  most  widely 
from  her  views. 


214  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

thoughts  about  Religion;  for,  if  that  value  be 
trifling,  it  will  be  all  the  more  unfortunate,  should 
they  possess  any  facilities  for  imposing  them  upon  us 
by  wordy  fluency, —  that  "fatal  fluency  "  which  the 
best  men  in  America  have  deplored  as  among  the 
gifts  of  their  countrymen. 

Thoughts  of  the  class  which  are  properly  ex- 
pressed in  pulpits  are,  of  course,  of  various  kinds. 
There  are  thoughts  which  are  purely  reflections  and 
speculations  of  the  intellect  on  critical  and  philo- 
sophical problems,  and  which  an  able  lawyer,  an 
acute  critic,  or  a  profound  metaphysician  can  make 
as  well,  or  better,  than  a  prophet  or  a  saint ;  nay,  in 
which  a  Mephistopheles  might  excel  a  Tauler.  It 
is  no  doubt  sometimes  necessary  (though  surely  by 
no  means  so  frequently  as  some  preachers  seem  to 
take  for  granted)  to  offer  thoughts  of  this  class  to 
a  congregation,  and,  in  short,  to  read  out  in  church 
an  article  which  minus  the  text  might  have  ap- 
peared in  a  Review.  If  it  be  a  very  lofty  and  relig- 
ious mind  from  which  such  thoughts  emanate,  they 
will  of  course  possess  an  elevating  power  propor- 
tioned to  the  momentum  of  such  a  mind  brought  to 
bear  on  ordinary  intellects.  To  be  lifted  by  sermons 
of  this  class  into  the  serene  and  purified  atmosphere 
of  noble  speculation  will  of  itself  effect  a  quasi- 
religious  result,  independently  of  any  conviction  of 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  215 

theological  truths  which  may  or  may  not  be  brought 
away.  The  hearers  who  have  followed  for  half  an 
hour  the  upward  flight  of  one  of  these  eagle  souls 
will  return  to  the  petty  concerns,  interests,  pleasures, 
anxieties  of  common  life,  calmed  and  ennobled,  and 
able  to  see  all  things  in  more  just  proportions.  On 
the  other  hand,  if  the  preacher  be  merely  a  clever 
critic  or  metaphysician,  who  deals  with  sacred 
themes  as  a  counsel  with  the  case  in  his  brief, 
the  result  of  his  sermons,  however  brilliant  and 
interesting  they  may  be  found  by  an  intellectual 
audience,  and  triumphantly  satisfactory  to  those 
who  find  their  cherished  opinions  clinched  by  his 
arguments,  will  be  the  reverse  of  religious.  The 
listeners  will  go  away,  not  awed  and  calmed,  but 
eager  for  controversy  and  confirmed  in  self-con- 
fidence, having  lost  any  benefit  which  they  might 
have  derived  from  the  previous  acts  of  worship. 
They  have  been  made  to  rise  from  their  knees  to  sit 
down  instantly  in  the  seat  of  the  critical,  always 
very  closely  contiguous  to  that  of  the  scornful. 

Of  this  intellectual  and  theoretical  class  of  ser- 
mons it  is  not  to  be  anticipated  that  women  will 
preach  many.  I  should  rather  say  that  one  of  the 
good  things  which  may  be  hoped  from  the  introduc- 
tion of  women  into  the  ministry  may  prove  to  be 
the  falling  out  of  fashion  of  a  class  of  discourses 


216  THE  FITHESS   OF  WOMEN 

which  can  only  be  beneficial  or  desirable  in  the  case 
of  exceptional  mental  greatness,  combined  with  a 
piety  warm  and  powerful  enough  to  hallow  every 
region  of  thought  into  which  it  may  pass. 

Again,  there  is  an  order  of  thought  more  practical 
than  this,  and  surely  more  suitable  to  form  the 
sequel  of  a  service  of  prayer;  namely,  ideas  con- 
cerning duty  in  all  its  forms,  religious,  social,  and 
personal.  It  is  amazing,  considering  the  place  which 
Christianity  in  every  phase  assigns  to  obedience  to 
the  will  of  God,  how  exceedingly  small  a  space 
lessons  and  discussions  concerning  what  is  that 
Divine  Will,  as  regards  every-day  conduct,  ever  take 
in  Christian  instruction.  We  are  eternally  exhorted 
to  repent ;  but  what  are  the  sins  and  failures  which 
ought  to  be  included  in  our  penitence,  few  preachers 
take  the  pains  to  inform  us.  We  are  exhorted  to 
"renounce  the  devil  and  all  his  works";  but  what 
those  "works"  may  be,  as  distinguished  from  works 
of  righteousness  in  the  shop,  the  camp,  the  bar,  the 
exchange,  the  interior  of  our  homes,  we  are  left  to 
find  out  for  ourselves.  Sermons  treating  carefully 
and  thoughtfully  any  subject  of  the  kind  are  among 
the  most  rare  of  clerical  addresses.  Bishop  South 
confesses,  indeed,  that  two-thirds  of  Christianity  are 
a  Christian  temper.  But  how  many  times  have  any 
of  us  heard  rebuked  from  the  pulpit  that  odious 


FOE  THE  MINISTRY  OF  EELIGION.  217 

sullenness  which  makes  the  unhappy  inmates  of  the 
same  home  with  the  sulky  person  live  in  a  perpetual 
November,  or  yet  the  despotic  violence  and  anger 
which  threaten  them  like  a  perpetual  thunder-storm 
brewing  in  the  distance?  What  master  of  a  house- 
hold is  told,  by  the  only  man  who  dare  tell  him, 
that  his  tyranny,  his  harshness,  perhaps  his  cruelty, 
exercised  hourly  on  wife  or  child  or  any  luckless 
dependant,  make  up  a  sum  total  of  misery  to  them 
and  of  offence  on  his  part,  worse  than  the  results  of 
many  a  sudden  crime,  and  certainly  involving  no 
less  guilt?  What  wife  and  mother  is  told  that  her 
selfishness,  her  bickerings,  her  discontent,  her  spite- 
fulnesses,  are  sins  for  which  no  prate  of  high  relig- 
ious feeling  or  incessant  fussing  about  church-going 
can  possibly  atone?  And,  again,  as  regards  other 
offences, —  let  us  say,  lying  and  dishonesty, —  when 
have  we  heard  wise  and  just  definitions  of  them 
from  our  pastors,  or  fitting  exhortations  to  nobler 
standards  of  veracity  and  probity  than  are  common 
in  the  world?  In  the  upper  classes  of  society,  a 
certain  slipshod  rule  of  thumb  on  these  subjects  is 
pretty  generally  received.  But  where  did  we  learn 
it?  Certainly  not  when  we  occupied  our  seats  in 
church,  but  rather  at  the  dinner-table,  in  the  play- 
ground at  school,  at  the  club,  or  in  the  drawing-room. 
Among  the  lower  ranks,  where  this  traditional  code, 


218  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

of  honor  rather  than  of  morality,  does  not  hold 
equal  sway,  the  ignorance  which  prevails  concern- 
ing the  very  rudimentary  principles  of  truth  and 
probity  is  often  no  less  startling  than  deplorable. 
The  neglect  of  the  clergy  of  all  denominations  to 
draw  clear  definitions  on  these  matters  of  hourly 
concern,  so  that  their  flocks  may  at  least  "know  what 
is  right,  supposing  they  are  so  fortunate  as  to  be 
able  to  inspire  them  with  a  resolution  to  do  it  when 
known,  is  of  a  piece  with  the  indifference  of  all  the 
churches  to  moral  heresies  of  the  most  soul-debasing 
kind,  while  they  punish  to  the  utmost  of  their 
powers  the  faintest  divergence  from  theological 
orthodoxy. 

I  cannot  but  think  that,  if  women  now  enter  the 
pulpit,  a  great  many  more  sermons  will  be  preached 
dealing  with  these  points  of  practical  ethics.  The 
concrete  and  the  personal  will  probably  always 
possess  keener  interest  for  the  majority  of  women 
than  the  abstract,  the  vague  and  the  universal ;  and 
there  is,  moreover,  if  I  mistake  not,  a  very  distinct 
superiority  in  the  womanly  propensity  to  translate 
ideas  into  action,  over  the  man-of-the-world  habit  of 
admitting  high  and  rigid  principles  in  theory,  while 
practising  quite  other  rules  in  commerce,  politics,  and 
social  affairs.  A  very  eminent  thinker  and  scholar, 
a  leader  of  thought  at  Oxford,  once  remarked  to  me 


FOR   THE  MINISTRY   OF  RELIGION.  219 

with  characteristic  simplicity,  "  I  do  not  know  how 
to  account  for  the  fact,  but  I  notice  that,  when  a 
good  woman  is  convinced  that  something  is  true  or 
right,  she  tries  immediately  in  some  way  to  square 
her  beliefs  and  conduct  accordingly ;  whereas  when 
I  have,  perhaps  by  infinite  labor,  succeeded  in  con- 
vincing a  man  of  the  same  thing,  he  goes  on  just  as 
he  did  before,  without  altering  his  behavior  a  jot, 
and  as  if  nothing  had  happened!"  Now,  I  think 
this  practical  tendency  of  the  feminine  nature 
(though  it  will  perhaps  be  less  marked  hereafter 
when  women  submit  more  generally  to  the  friction 
of  contact  with  many  minds)  will  inevitably  show 
itself  in  a  preference  for  the  inculcation  of  definite 
duties  rather  than  for  the  vague  declamations  about 
repentance  and  regeneration  which  so  often  leave 
their  hearers  perfectly  undisturbed  and  on  the  high 
way  (as  they  think)  to  heaven,  leading  lives  of 
odious  selfishness,  and  combining  profit  and  piety 
after  the  fashion  of  the  celebrated  grocer,  "  Sand  the 
sugar,  John  —  and  then  come  in  to  prayers." 

It  has  been  often  remarked  that  the  most  pro- 
found difference  between  modern  and  classical  civ- 
ilization lies  in  the  contrast  between  the  value 
attached  by  each  to  private  morals.  The  virtue  of 
the  individual  was  of  old  treated  as  altogether  sub- 
ordinate in  importance  to  the  interests  of  the  State. 


220  THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN 

In  our  time,  we  have  almost  come  to  recognize  that 
states  and  churches  —  nay,  society  itself — exist  for 
the  sake  of  building  up  individual  souls  to  their 
perfection  ;  and  there  is  every  reason  to  expect  that 
this  sense  of  the  supreme  importance  of  morals  over 
every  other  human  concern  will  rather  increase  than 
dwindle  through  all  time  to  come. 

Now,  it  would  certainly  appear  that  this  Hebraism, 
as  Mr.  Arnold  calls  it,  is  rather  characteristic  of  the 
higher  sort  of  women.  The  moment  a  woman  rises 
above  the  passion  for  personal  admiration  and  the 
struggle  for  petty  social  ambition  or  sordid  matri- 
monial scheming,  to  which  so  large  a  number  of 
unhappy  ones  are  trained  and  consigned  from  girl- 
hood, on  the  principle  of  "  keeping  women  in  their 
proper  sphere,"  -  the  moment,  I  say,  that  a  woman 
has  been  lifted  by  education  or  her  natural  force  of 
character  above  all  this  frivolity  and  baseness,  we 
almost  invariably  find  in  her  a  degree  of  earnestness 
about  ethical  and  ethico-religious  questions  which  is 
far  more  rarely  traceable  among  men.  It  is  true 
that  her  exclusion  from  a  great  many  fields  of  mas- 
culine interest  naturally  centres  her  thoughts  more 
on  such  subjects,  and  that,  when  those  exclusions  are 
more  or  less  removed,  we  must  expect  to  see  more 
frequently  women  absorbed  in  the  same  worldly 
interests  as  men,  and  perhaps  some  who  now  think 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY  OF   RELIGION.  221 

night  and  day  of  a  ball  will  be  equally  eager  about 
a  bill  in  Parliament.  Still,  I  believe  that,  inde- 
pendently of  circumstances,  women  have  a  special 
tendency  (as  Renan  avers  of  the  Celtic  race)  to 
"  long  after  the  infinite,"  and  to  yearn  to  bring  an 
element  of  sacredness  and  nobleness  into  the  transac- 
tions of  daily  life  such  as  their  moral  aspect  alone 
affords.  I  believe  that  nine  women  out  of  ten  (of 
the  better  sort,  of  whom  I  have  spoken)  would,  if 
they  had  the  choice,  oftener  speak  of  duty  and 
religion  than  of  any  other  themes.*  If  this  be  so, 
it  would  follow  that,  as  time  goes  on,  instead  of 
women  falling  behind  in  the  progress  of  humanity, 
that  progress  will  constantly  tend  to  bring  women 
more  to  the  front  as  students  and  expounders  of 
morality. 

There  is  another  aspect  of  this  matter  also,  which 
fairly  deserves  consideration.  Many  good  Christians 
have  remarked  that,  while  they  would  fain  take 
Jesus  Christ  as  their  "  Great  Exemplar,"  they  find 
nothing  in  his  life  indicating  what  his  example 


*  A  curious  Illustration  of  this  is  to  be  found  in  a  passage  in  the  first 
series  of  Mrs.  Kemble's  charming  autobiography  published  three  years 
ago.  She  describes  the  late  Lady  Byron  as  often  expressing  envy  of  her 
(Mrs.  Kemble's)  public  readings,  and  her  longing  to  have  similar  crowds 
in  sympathy  with  her  own  impressions.  "  I  made  her  laugh,"  says  Mrs. 
Kemble,  "by  telling  her  that  more  than  once,  when  looking  from  my 
reading-desk  over  the  sea  of  faces  uplifted  toward  me,  a  sudden  feeling 


222  THE  FITNESS  OF  WOMEN 

would  have  been  in  the  very  closest  and  most  im- 
portant of  human  relations  of  husband  or  father. 
Surely  there  is  no  less  reason  for  women  to  be 
conscious  of  a  lacune  in  their  moral  instructions, 
when  they  are  received  exclusively  either  from 
mothers  and  governesses  who  may  be  utterly  unfit 
for  such  an  office,  and  who  often  merely  pass  on 
traditional  moral  heresies,  or  else  from  masculine 
pastors  whose  whole  moral  parallax  is  necessarily 
different  from  that  of  a  woman,  and  who  practically 
know  next  to  nothing  of  the  trials,  temptations,  and 
duties  of  her  lot.  We  have  had  of  recent  years  in 
many  of  our  churches,  and  notably  in  St.  Paul's 
Cathedral,  courses  of  sermons  addressed  by  various 
clergymen  to  men  alone,  from  which  women  have 
been  rigidly  excluded.  Would  it  be  too  much  to 
hope  that  some  time  or  other,  in  some  humble 
chapel  (since  no  one  would  dream  of  devoting  the 
national  religious  edifices  to  the  exclusive  use  of 
women  for  a  single  hour),  women  may  enjoy  the 
privilege  of  being  especially  addressed  by  pastors 

had  seized  me  that  I  must  say  something /rom  myself  to  all  those  human 
beings  whose  attention  I  felt  at  that  moment  entirely  at  my  command, 
and  between  whom  and  myself  a  sense  of  sympathy  thrilled  powerfully 
and  strangely  through  my  heart  as  I  looked  steadfastly  at  them  before 
opening  my  lips  ;  but  that  on  wondering  afterwards  what  I  might,  could, 
would,  or  should  have  said  to  them  from  myself,  I  never  could  think  of 
anything  but  two  words  — '  Be  good ! ' "  (Page  3J7.) 


FOR  THE  MINISTRY   OF  RELIGION.  223 

of  their  own  sex,   who  may  talk  to  them  at  once 
with  cultured  minds  and  experienced  hearts? 

And,  lastly,  besides  the  Intellectual  and  the  Moral 
classes  of  thoughts  to  be  offered  from  the  pulpit, 
there  is  a  third, —  of  which,  alas !  we  know  far  too 
little, —  the  Spiritual.  The  store  of  this  latter  class 
of  thoughts  is  probably  extremely  small  even  in 
minds  of  richest  experience.  They  seem  rather  to 
distil  slowly  in  precious  drops  from  the  wounds  in 
the  tree  of  life  than  to  be  capable  of  manufacture 
by  the  help  of  culture  and  reflection.  They  are  the 
thoughts  which  concern  the  baseness,  the  loathsome- 
ness, the  misery  of  sin  (felt  and  considered  as  Sin, 
not  as  Error  or  Vice),  the  glory  and  beauty  and  joy 
of  Holiness,  felt  as  Holiness,  not  as  Prudence  or 
Virtue.  They  teach  the  laws  of  our  spiritual  exist- 
ence ;  the  hygienics  of  the  soul ;  the  "  Way  toward 
the  Blessed  Life."  In  some  sense,  sermons  which 
contain  thoughts  like  these  may  be  called  Moral 
Discourses ;  for  they  touch  the  very  springs  of  our 
moral  nature,  and  send  us  forth  heart-smitten  for 
the  past,  heart-strengthened  with  resolutions  for  the 
future.  They  are  the  most  powerful  moral  levers 
which  human  agency  ever  applies  to  our  souls.  But 
they  are  the  reverse  of  didactic,  ethical  disquisitions, 
or  expositions  of  the  detailed  code  of  virtue.  They 
lie  in  another  region  of  feeling  and  appeal  to  another 


224  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

class  of  our  faculties  than  the  ratiocinative.  We  do 
not  sit  and  judge  them,  but  they  come  from  above 
and  judge  us.  When  they  strike  us  most  forcibly, 
we  never  feel  the  temptation  (as  we  are  so  often 
inclined  to  do  at  the  best  bits  in  the  critical  or 
the  moral  discourse)  to  express  our  approbation  by 
the  familiar  tokens  of  public  applause.  On  the  con- 
trary, it  is  our  own  breasts  we  are  fain  to  beat; 
while,  if  our  lips  move,  it  is  to  murmur  the  prayer 
of  the  publican. 

Will  women  preach  sermons  of  this  order  and 
filled  with  thoughts  like  these  ?  It  is  impossible  to 
foretell  with  certainty ;  yet  here,  if  anywhere,  may 
we  expect  to  find  the  special  gifts  of  women  brought 
out  at  last  from  their  hidden  treasuries.  It  has  been 
said  of  almost  every  great  spiritual  teacher  that 
there  has  been  something  feminine  in  his  nature, 
something  more  of  tenderness  and  purity,  more  of 
insight  into  and  sympathy  with  others,  than  belongs 
to  lesser  men.  In  Jesus  Christ,  the  ideal  characters 
of  both  sexes  seem  almost  equally  blended.  Of 
course  there  are  other  qualities  besides  the  charac- 
teristically feminine  ones  needed  to  form  the  highest 
kind  of  religious  teacher;  but  the  sterner  qualities 
are  no  more  invariably  deficient  in  women  than  are 
the  softer  ones  always  lacking  in  men,  and  it  seems 
the  reverse  of  improbable  that  women  may  arise 


FOE   THE   MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  225 

uniting  both  in  hitherto  almost  unexampled  degree. 
Let  us  remember  that,  after  all,  the  one  great 
Force  of  the  spiritual  world  —  its  correlated  Gravita- 
tion, Light,  Electricity,  Magnetism,  and'  Vital  Force, 
all  in  one  —  is  pure  Divine  LOVE.  This  alone,  radi- 
ating from  the  Sun  of  Love  in  the  heavens,  moves 
and  vivifies  the  soul ;  and  to  it  alone  it  responds  as 
the  flower  to  the  orb  of  day  —  we  know  not  how. 
The  human  spirit  which  receives  from  on  high 
the  largest  influx  of  this  divine  light  and  warmth 
thereby  becomes  a  focus  of  reflected  power  and 
fervor  for  all  those  who  can  be  brought  into  spiritual 
contact  with  it.  It  is  the  "love  of  God  shed  abroad" 
in  the  heart, —  the  love  of  that  goodness  which  God 
is,  and  for  which  man  is  made,  whose  germs  even 
now  the  illumined  eye  of  love  discerns  deep-latent 
in  every  human  soul, —  in  a  word,  the  love  of  God 
and  love  of  man,  in  whose  might  all  spiritual  miracles 
are  done,  all  leprous  souls  cleansed,  all  demon  pas- 
sions cast  out,  all  blind  eyes  opened,  all  maimed  and 
crippled  faculties  made  whole.  If  we  could  but  find 
the  most  profoundly-loving,  the  most  unselfishly, 
nobly,  purely  loving  of  men  or  women  now  living 
upon  earth,  and  set  him  or  her  in  the  midst  of  us  to 
be  our  teacher,  our  friend,  our  guide  into  the  ways 
of  peace  and  blessedness,  we  should  have  gained  a 
help  better  than  all  the  philosophers  and  theologians, 


226  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

the  monks  and  the  hermits,  could  ever  give.  I  will 
not  take  on  myself  to  affirm  that  such  most  loving 
heart  beats  in  a  woman's  breast.  It  may  well  be 
that  there  are  men  as  tender  in  feeling  as  any 
mother  whose  spirit  ever  yearned  over  her  infant's 
cradle.  But  there  is  at  least  an  equal  chance  of  a 
woman's  supremacy,  and  almost  a  certainty  that,  on 
a  secondary  level  of  loving-kindness  and  unselfish- 
ness, we  should  find  many  more  women  than  men. 
It  is  quite  impossible,  I  think,  that  this  difference 
should  not  make  itself  felt,  and  a  new  impulse  be 
made  to  now  through  all  the  channels  of  spiritual 
life  whenever  the  influence  of  women  may  be 
brought  to  bear  directly  and  largely  on  the  religious 
feelings  of  the  community. 

Lastly,  and  chiefly.  It  is  a  truism  to  say  that  the 
character  of  our  religion  depends  on  our  idea  of 
God ;  but  who  has  taken  note  of  this  familiar  fact 
sufficiently  to  recognize  that  all  the  traditional  part 
of  that  solemn  idea  has  come  to  us  uniformly  in  a 
way  deplorably  one-sided,  and  that  side  the  least  lov- 
able ?  I  do  not  overestimate  the  importance  of  any 
idea  of  God  which  comes  to  us  through  our  fellow- 
men.  It  seems  to  me  that,  from  the  first  dawn  of 
the  religious  life,  the  child  has  a  dim  sense  (apart 
from  his  teacher's  lessons)  of  some  beneficent  and 
righteous  Power  around  and  within  him ;  and  that 


FOB   THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  227 

when  the  Sun  rises  on  any  soul  in  the  awful  hour 
which  saints  have  likened  to  a  new  birth,  there  is 
obtained,  even  through  all  the  mists  of  earth,  a 
direct  vision  of  the  ineffable  glory,  which  evermore 
causes  the  words  of  other  mortals,  and  even  the 
man's  own  attempt  to  render  in  language  his  sense 
of  that  great  Love  and  Holiness,  to  seem  unreal  and 
worse  than  inadequate.  When  that  stage  is  reached, 
it  is  probably  of  little  consequence  what  a  man's 
pastor  may  tell  him  about  God's  character.  All  he 
says  is  only  like  a  book  which  describes  a  person  we 
ourselves  have  known  or  a  place  we  have  visited. 
Nobody  can  make  the  man  believe  (at  least  so  long 
as  his  own  living  faith  and  open  vision  endure)  that 
the  Being  whom  he  meets  in  the  hour  of  prayer  is 
less  than  All-good,  unutterably  Holy,  even  though 
the  dogmas  he  accepts  practically  attribute  to  him 
a  totally  different  character.  The  only  injury  he  can 
suffer  is  a  negative  one  :  he  is  denied  the  help  and 
sympathy  which  he  needs,  and  which  it  is  the  proper 
office  of  his  minister  to  supply  to  him.  But  at  an 
earlier  stage,  when  all  religious  experience  is  yet 
vague  and  dim,  when  faith  must  of  necessity  be  pro- 
visional and  taken  on  trust  at  second  hand, —  at  that 
period  there  can  be  no  question  of  the  misfortune  of 
receiving  cold,  hard,  narrow  notions  about  God,  in- 
stilled by  teachers  who  themselves  have  little  love  or 


228  THE  FITNESS   OF  WOMEN 

no  direct  spiritual  knowledge,  and  have  chiefly  bor- 
rowed their  ideas  from  the  confessedly  imperfect 
rendering,  age  after  age,  of  other  men's  experience. 
How  is  a  young  soul  ever  to  turn  to  God,  when  God 
is  represented  to  it  as  One  from  whom  it  would  far 
more  naturally  turn  away  ?  And  let  it  be  remem- 
bered that  the  attributes  of  God  which  call  out  the 
spontaneous  love  and  adoration  of  the  heart  are  pre- 
cisely those  whose  meaning  is  most  completely  lost 
and  evaporated  in  the  dry  formularies  of  the  intel- 
lect, and  can  never  be  truly  conveyed  except  by  one 
whose  own  heart  responds  to  them  through  all  its 
depths.  Power,  Wisdom,  Justice,  are  divine  charac- 
teristics, of  which  the  meaning  may  be  indicated  by 
any  teacher  with  a  clear  head  and  command  of  lan- 
guage. But  I  disbelieve  that  any  one  who  is  not 
himself  full  of  love  and  tenderness  has  ever,  since 
the  world  began,  yet  transmitted  to  another  soul  the 
truth  that  God  is  Love. 

There  is  little  to  wonder  at,  after  all,  in  the 
mournful  fact  that  the  religion  which  as  it  rose  from 
the  heart  of  Christ  was  supremely  the  religion  of 
Divine  Love  became,  as  the  centuries  went  by, 
colder  and  harder  and  more  cruel,  till  the  irony  was 
complete,  and  the  doctrine  of  the  Mount  of  Galilee 
was  illustrated  by  the  fires  of  the  Spanish  Inquisi- 
tion. Who,  we  may  ask,  were  the  teachers  of 


FOE  THE  MINISTRY  OF  RELIGION.  229 

Christianity  during  the  intervening  ages?  Who 
were  they  through  whose  lips  and  writings  the 
lessons  gathered  from  the  lilies  and  the  sparrows, 
and  the  story  of  the  Prodigal,  were  transmitted  to 
each  new-born  generation  ?  They  were  men,  exclu- 
sively men ;  nay,  men  who,  in  taking  their  office, 
renounced  those  ties  of  natural  affection  through 
which  the  Author  of  Nature  has  caused  the  human 
heart  to  grow  tender,  and  to  be  taught  the  practice 
of  unselfishness.  To  fit  themselves  to  convey  to 
the  hearts  of  their  brethren  the  gospel  of  the  Father- 
hood of  God,  they  began  by  renouncing  the  experi- 
ence of  human  fatherhood  for  themselves.  The 
Apostolic  Succession,  of  which  the  great  Churches 
still  boast,  was  for  fifteen  centuries  a  school  for  the 
transmission  of  ideas  about  a  Divine  Parent  down 
a  long  chain  of  childless  celibates.  We  Protestants 
have  corrected  this  mistake,  and  the  men  who  tell  to 
us  the  story  of  the  Prodigal  are  at  least  able  to 
speak  out  of  the  abundance  of  their  hearts  when 
they  say  that,  "  like  as  a  father  pitieth  his  children, 
so  the  Lord  hath  mercy  on  them  that  fear  Him." 
But  is  there  not  one  step  even  further  to  be  taken  ? 
Is  not  the  compassion  of  "  a  mother  for  the  son  of 
her  womb  "  a  still  prof o under  image  of  the  Divine 
Love  than  the  father's  pity?  Ought  it  not  also  to 
be  brought  home  to  our  comprehensions  (if  in  any 


230  THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN 

measure  human  words  may  so  bring  it)  through  the 
lips  of  mothers  and  motherly-hearted  women  ? 

The  loss  out  of  our  religion  of  all  those  ideas 
which  may  be  classed  as  the  doctrine  of  the  mother- 
hood of  God  has  been  attended  with  evils  innumer- 
able. The  Church  of  Rome,  in  obedience  to  a 
vehement  popular  instinct,  has  sought  to  make 
up  for  the  defect  by  Mariolatry.  The  orthodox 
Protestant  Churches,  by  sternly  adhering  to  their 
masculine  Trinity,  have  indeed  preserved  the  awe 
and  moral  reverence  which  the  Divine  Kingship 
and  Fatherhood  demand,  and  which  the  paganism 
of  virgin  worship  has  obliterated.  But  how  much 
have  they  not  lost  by  excluding  those  sentiments 
which  can  only  be  given  to  One  in  whom  we  recog- 
nize not  only  justice,  holiness,  and  beneficence,  but 
also  tenderness,  sympathy,  love?  The  truth  is  we 
are  so  constituted  that  great  benefits  received, —  if 
we  think  of  them  as  bestowed  merely  because  it  is 
right  and  good  to  give  them,  and  not  from  love  for 
ourselves, —  so  far  from  awakening  in  us  spontane- 
ous emotions  of  gratitude,  have  rather  an  opposite 
tendency,  and  seem  to  lay  on  us  an  obligation  to  be 
grateful,  which  is  a  sort  of  burden,  and  from  which 
all  minds  save  the  most  generous  have  a  proclivity 
to  escape.  To  hundreds  of  us,  large  donations 
from  just  and  well-meaning  but  unaffectionate 


FOB  THE  MINISTRY   OF   RELIGION.  231 

fathers  have  failed  to  waken  the  smallest  throb  of 
genuine  gratefulness ;  while  some  mere  trifle  given 
by  a  loving  mother-^- a  flower  from  a  well-remem- 
bered rose-tree,  a  scrap  of  her  needlework  —  has 
filled  our  eyes  with  tears.  In  excluding,  then,  in 
a  great  degree  from  view  that  which  I  may  pre- 
sume to  call  the  maternal  side  of  religion,  the 
Churches,  so  far  as  they  have  done  it,  have 
dropped  the  golden  chain  whereby  human  hearts 
may  be  drawn,  and  have  kept  in  their  hands  the 
iron  one  which  can  only  control  the  reason  and  the 
conscience.  Is  it  possible  to  estimate  the  amount 
of  loss  to  religion  which  this  signifies,  or  how  many 
thousands  of  souls  might  have  been  won  by  love  to 
a  life  of  piety  and  holiness  who  have  refused  to  obey 
the  bit  and  bridle  of  sterner  motives,  and  have  wan- 
dered off  and  been  lost  in  the  wilderness  of  practical 
atheism  ? 

If  there  be,  then,  as  I  humbly  believe  and  trust, 
in  the  nature  of  our  great  Parent  above,  certain 
characters  of  tenderness  and  sympathy  with  His 
creatures  which  are  more  perfectly  shadowed,  more 
vividly  reflected,  in  the  love  of  human  mothers  for 
their  children  than  by  aught  else  on  earth ;  if  there 
be,  in  short,  a  real  meaning  in  the  old  lesson  that 
God  created  woman  as  well  as  man  in  His  own 
image, —  the  image  being  only  complete  in  the  com- 


232      THE  FITNESS   OF   WOMEN   FOE   THE  MINISTRY. 

plete  humanity, —  then  I  think  it  follows  that  there 
is  urgent  need  that  woman's  idea  of  God  should 
have  its  due  place  in  all  our  teaching  of  religion. 
I  think  that  there  must  be  truths  in  this  direction 
which  only  a  woman's  heart  will  conceive  and  only 
a  woman's  lips  can  teach, —  truths,  perchance,  which 
have  come  to  her  when  baby-fingers  have  clung 
round  her  neck  in  the  dark  while  infant  trust  over- 
came infant  terror,  and  she  has  asked  herself  was 
there  anything  in  heaven  or  earth  which  could  make 
her  cast  down  to  destruction,  or  even  let  slip  from 
her  clasp  of  care  and  guardianship,  the  helpless  little 
child  thus  lying  in  her  arms, —  a  living  parable  of  all 
our  race  in  the  everlasting  arms  of  God. 


THE  HOUSE  ON  THE  SHOKE  OF  ETEKNITY. 


THE  HOUSE  ON  THE  SHOEE  OF  ETEKNITY, 


AN  ALLEGORY. 


Two  SIMPLE-MINDED  men,  who  had  dwelt  all  their 
lives  in  a  country  far  inland,  at  last  undertook  a 
long  journey  together.  This  happened  many  ages 
ago,  when  there  were  no  such  things  as  printed 
books  or  village  schools,  and  when  the  people  in 
isolated  districts  saw  no  travellers,  and  knew  noth- 
ing of  the  great  world  beyond  the  hills  which  closed 
their  horizon. 

Wolfgang  and  Athelstane,  so  our  pilgrims  were 
called,  walked  on  over  downs  and  heaths,  and 
through  the  vast  forests  of  oak  which  then  over- 
spread the  land,  till  at  last,  after  a  night's  toilsome 
march,  they  came,  in  the  early  dawn,  to  a  spot 
which  seemed  to  them  the  strangest  they  had  ever 
visited.  Walls  of  rock  shut  out  any  distant  view ; 
but  immediately  before  them  on  a  gentle  declivity 
there  stood  a  structure,  much  larger  than  the  humble 
cottages  which  Wolfgang  and  Athelstane  had  in- 


236  THE  HOUSE  ON  THE 

habited,  and  of  a  singularly  different  form.  Instead 
of  a  pointed  roof  of  thatch  or  tiles,  there  was,  on 
the  top,  a  flat  floor  of  boards  ;  while  beneath,  where 
there  should  have  been  a  solid  square  foundation, 
there  was  a  long  thin  wedge,  almost  like  a  roof 
which  had  been  reversed  and  turned  downward. 
Also,  through  the  floor  rose  up  two  long,  slender, 
tree-like  erections,  with  all  the  branches  carefully 
smoothed  away.  Crossbars  were  slung  on  these 
poles,  and  ropes  connected  them  together;  while  a 
great  roll  of  coarse  woven  stuff,  like  sackcloth,  lay 
folded  up  beside  them.  At  one  end,  and  outside  of 
the  wooden  structure,  hung  a  huge  beam,  standing, 
as  it  seemed,  in  some  unaccountable  relation  to  the 
rest  of  the  fabric,  and  connected  with  it  by  machinery 
passing  into  the  interior.  All  these  singular  things 
were  slowly  and  carefully  noted  by  our  two  humble 
travellers,  as  they  walked  round  the  wooden  build- 
ing in  the  morning  twilight.  No  one  was  near 
who  could  afford  them  an  explanation  of  the  use 
or  purpose  of  what  they  saw ;  and  their  doubts  and 
wonder  grew  every  moment. 

"What  can  it  mean?"  said  Wolfgang.  "What 
did  the  builder  —  whoever  he  can  have  been  — 
intend  by  such  a  mansion  as  this  ? " 

"  It  is  clear  enough,"  answered  Athelstane, 
thoughtfully,  "  that  it  is  the  work  of  some  very 


SHORE  OF  ETERNITY.  237 

ingenious  hands.  How  soundly  and  skilfully  it  is 
all  fitted  together !  " 

"  True,"  replied  his  comrade  ;  "  and  yet  ought  we 
to  say  it  is  well  made  before  we  can  tell  for  what 
purpose  it  is  constructed?  To  me  it  seems  that  our 
own  old  huts  of  wattled  willow  and  turf  were,  after 
all,  of  a  better  shape  for  a  house  to  stand  on  the 
ground." 

"  Do  you  think  this  is  a  house,  only  a  house  ? " 
said  Athelstane,  suddenly  looking  up. 

"  Well,  if  it  be  not  a  house,  what  else  can  it  be  ?  " 
said  Wolfgang.  "  Let  us  try  to  look  inside  of  it, 
and  examine  it  more  closely." 

The  two  men  soon  contrived  to  enter  the  edifice 
which  so  puzzled  them ;  and  presently  Wolfgang 
exclaimed  triumphantly :  — 

"See!  there  can  be  no  question  more  on  the 
matter.  This  is  only  a  house.  Here  are  seats  and 
tables  for  men  to  sit  at,  and  beds  for  them  to  sleep 
in ;  and  here  is  a  fire-place  and  a  great  iron  pot  to 
cook  food.  Now,  you  can  have  no  hesitation.  It  is 
just  a  wooden  house,  and  rather  stupidly  planned." 

"I  have  no  doubt,"  said  Athelstane,  "that  it  is 
intended  for  a  habitation ;  but  is  it  not  inexplicable 
that  a  builder  who  can  work  so  cleverly  should  con- 
struct it  so  unsuitably  for  a  common  house  ?  Why 
is  it  not  made  to  stand  squarely  and  steadily  on  the 


238  THE  HOUSE  ON  THE 

ground?  What  is  the  sense  of  these  long  soaring 
poles  standing  up  through  the  middle,  with  the  coils 
of  ropes  and  bales  of  sacking  ?  And  this  ?  This  is 
the  most  mysterious  thing  of  all,"  said  Athelstane, 
placing  his  hand  on  a  wheel,  which  instantly  stirred 
the  great  beam  at  the  back. 

"They  are  strange  certainly,"  replied  Wolfgang, 
—  "  very  strange  and  useless  things,  I  should  say, 
about  a  house  which  would  be  much  more  comfort- 
able and  answer  its  purpose  better  without  them. 
I  cannot  agree  with  you  that  the  builder  was 
really  a  clever  man,  or  knew  what  he  was  about, 
else  he  would  never  have  erected  those  poles  or 
made  that  senseless,  upside-down  roof,  instead  of  a 
foundation ;  or,  above  all,  have  constructed  that 
totally  unmeaning  apparatus  behind  the  whole 
structure." 

"I  differ  from  you,"  said  Athelstane,  after  some 
moments  more  of  reflection.  "  I  think  it  is  we  who 
are  not  clever  or  ingenious,  and  who  cannot  find  out 
what  the  carpenter  who  made  this  building  intends 
to  do  with  it.  I  do  not  believe  that  singular  form 
beneath  (so  little  fit  for  a  building  only  intended  for 
a  house),  nor  those  poles  and  ropes  and  vast  sheets 
of  woven  stuff,  nor  yet  that  mysterious  great  beam, 
were  all  added  to  a  mere  house  for  nothing, —  for  no 
purpose  whatever.  I  think,  Wolfgang,"  and  Athel- 


SHORE  OF   ETERNITY.  239 

stane  laid  his  hand  on  his  friend's  arm  earnestly, — 
"  I  think  what  we  are  looking  at  is  something  more 
than  a  house.  I  think  it  is  not  intended  to  stand 
always  where  we  see  it." 

"You  are  dreaming,  Athelstane,"  said  Wolfgang, 
Avith  a  short  laugh.  "  Where  on  earth  should  a 
house  go,  if  it  is  not  to  stand  always  where  it  is 
built?  Who  would  want  to  move  such  a  structure 
as  this?" 

"I  do  not  know,"  said  Athelstane,  humbly.  "I 
do  not  profess  to  understand  the  mystery  of  it :  only 
I  see  that  the  master  carpenter  who  built  it  must 
have  been  a  very  great  carpenter  indeed  ;  and  I  can- 
not believe  that  he  has  made  all  these  things  in  vain, 
or  for  no  important  purpose.  If  he  wanted  only  a 
house,  why  did  he  not  simply  build  a  house  standing 
flat  on  the  ground,  and  with  no  shafts  piercing  the 
air,  and  no  vast  guiding  beam  at  the  back  ?  Trust 
me,  friend  Wolfgang,  this  is  something  more  than 
the  common  abode  of  which  alone  you  seem  able  to 
think." 

While  the  two  simple-minded  men  yet  talked 
together,  the  sun  had  risen,  and  there  was  a  sound  of 
many  waters  and  of  rising  waves;  and  through  an 
opening  in  the  rocks,  which  the  travellers  had  not 
perceived  in  the  twilight,  the  great  ocean  became 
revealed  to  their  eyes.  Higher  and  higher  rose  the 


240  THE  HOUSE  ON  THE 

tide,  till  it  almost  reached  where  the  strange  wooden 
building  still  lay  motionless;  and  the  travellers 
retreated  a  little  up  the  shore,  and  stood,  awe-struck 
and  breathless,  watching  what  might  happen.  Then 
down  from  the  cliff  above  ran  a  band  of  mariners, 
and  leaped  on  board  the  vessel,  and  hauled  in  the 
anchor ;  and  presently  the  waves  lifted  up  the  ship, 
and  she  floated  bravely  on  the  waters.  Very  soon, 
the  mariners  set  the  sails,  which  had  lain  idly  on  the 
deck,  the  pilot  placed  his  hand  on  the  rudder  and 
guided  the  noble  barque,  and  she  was  borne  by  the 
winds  of  heaven  far  off  beyond  the  uttermost  ken 
of  the  two  poor  travellers  upon  the  shore. 

Then,  after  a  time,  Wolfgang  turned  to  his  com- 
panion, and  said:  "Athelstane,  you  spoke  truth. 
Yon  House-of-the-Sea  was  made,  as  you  foresaw,  for 
other  use  than  to  stand  upon  the  ground.  It  was 
planned  for  a  different  element, —  the  free  world  of 
waters.  And  now  we  see  what  was  the  purport  of 
so  many  things  which  before  seemed  to  us  useless, — 
the  keel,  the  masts,  the  sails,  the  marvellous  and 
mysterious  rudder.  How  wonderful  it  is !  How 
wise  and  far-seeing  the  great  carpenter  who  made 
the  ship ! " 

As  Wolfgang  spoke,  Athelstane  lifted  his  head, 
which  had  drooped  in  heavy  thought,  and  he  saw 
the  wide  ocean  leaping  in  the  morning  light  stretched 


SHORE   OF  ETERNITY.  241 

out  before  him,  and  the  new-risen  sun  smote  his  face 
with  glory.  And  Athelstane  laid  his  hand  on  Wolf- 
gang's arm,  and  spoke  as  his  friend  had  never  heard 
him  speak  before,  for  it  was  as  a  man  in  whose  soul 
a  great  new  thought  had  sprung  to  life:  "Aye, 
Wolfgang,  aye,"  he  said;  "but  if  that  marvellous 
work  of  human  hands  was  not  made  only  for  earth, 
do  you  think  we  were  made  for  nothing  better  than 
the  life  which  now  we  lead, —  to  eat  and  drink,  and 
marry,  and  toil,  and  sleep,  and  die,  and  be  forgotten  ? 
Are  not  we  too,  O  Wolfgang,  made  for  other  things 
than  these?  Are  we  not  fitted  for  some  other  ele- 
ment than  that  in  which  now  we  have  our  being, 
some  other  existence  than  that  which  yet  we  lead  ? 
If  we  were  intended  only  to  live  our  few  years  of 
animal  life  on  earth  and  then  perish,  why  were  we 
given  minds  to  plough  the  seas  of  thought,  and 
aspirations  to  point  to  heaven,  and  love  to  swell 
beneath  the  breath  of  affection,  and  conscience  to 
guide  us  on  our  way  as  the  pilot  lays  on  it  his 
mighty  hand  ?  O  Wolfgang !  we  could  perceive 
that  the  ship  was  intended  to  float  on  the  great 
ocean  which  we  had  never  beheld.  Can  we  not  see 
that  we  and  all  our  race  are  made  to  live  in  a  world 
yet  unseen,  wider,  freer,  grander  a  thousand  times 
than  earth, —  a  world  which  we  shall  enter  when- 
soever the  tide  of  death  shall  lift  us  up  and  bear  us 
away?" 


THE  PEAK  IN  DAEIEN:  THE  KIDDLE  OF 
DEATH, 


THE  PEAK  IN  DAKIEN:  THE  KIDDLE  OF 
DEATH. 


IT  is  somewhat  singular  that  the  natural  longing 
to  penetrate  the  great  secret  of  mortality  should  not 
have  suggested  to  some  of  the  inquirers  into  so-called 
"  Spiritual "  manifestations  that,  before  attempting 
to  obtain  communication  with  the  dead  through 
such  poor  methods  as  raps  and  alphabets,  they  might 
more  properly,  and  with  better  hope  of  gaining  a 
glimpse  through  the  "  gates  ajar,  "  watch  closely  the 
dying,  and  study  the  psychological  phenomena  which 
accompany  the  act  of  dissolution.  Thus,  it  might 
be  possible  to  ascertain,  by  comparison  of  numerous 
instances,  whether  among  these  phenomena  are  any 
which  seem  to  indicate  that  the  mind,  soul,  or  self 
of  the  expiring  person,  is  not  undergoing  a  process 
of  extinction,  but  exhibiting  such  tokens  as  might 
be  anticipated,  were  it  entering  upon  a  new  phase 
of  existence  and  coming  into  possession  of  fresh 
faculties.  It  is  at  least  conceivable  that  some  such 
indications  might  be  observed,  were  we  to  look  for 


246  THE  PEAK  IN  DABIEN : 

them  with  care  and  caution,  under  the  rare  condi- 
tions wherein  they  could  at  any  time  be  afforded ; 
and,  if  this  should  prove  to  be  the  fact,  it  is  needless 
to  dilate  on  the  intense  interest  of  even  such 
semblance  of  confirmation  of  our  hopes.  I  must 
earnestly  protest,  however,  at  starting,  that,  in  my 
opinion,  to  regard  anything  which  could  be  so  no- 
ticed as  being  more  than  such  a  confirmation,  or,  as 
if  it  could  constitute  an  argument  for  belief  in  a 
future  life,  would  be  foolish  in  the  extreme,  seeing 
the  great  obscurity  and  the  evanescent  nature  of  all 
such  phenomena.  Our  faith  in  immortality  must  be 
built  on  altogether  different  ground,  if  it  is  to  be  of 
any  value  as  a  part  of  our  religion  or  of  our  philos- 
ophy. But,  assuming  that  we  are,  individually, 
already  convinced  that  the  quasi-universal  creed  of 
the  human  race  is  not  erroneous,  and  that  "  the  soul 
of  a  man  never  dies,"  *  we  may  not  unreasonably 

*  There  is  an  argument  which,  I  believe,  now  influences  more  or  less 
consciously  the  minds  of  many  intelligent  persons  against  the  belief  in 
the  immortal  life.  It  amounts  to  this  :  Granted  that  there  is  a  God,  and 
that  he  is  absolutely  benevolently  disposed  toward  mankind,  it  does  not 
follow  (as  commonly  assumed)  that  He  will  bestow  immortality  on  man, 
because  it  is  quite  possible  that  there  may  be  an  inherent  absurdity  and 
contradiction  in  the  idea  of  an  immortal  finite  creature,— it  may,  in 
short,  be  no  more  within  the  scope  of  divine  power  to  create  an  immortal 
man  than  to  make  a  triangle  with  the  properties  of  a  circle.  If  we  could 
be  first  assured  that  the  thing  were  possible,  then  arguments  derived  from 
the  justice  and  goodness  of  the  Deity  might  be  valuable,  as  affording  us 
ground  for  believing  that  He  will  do  that  possible  thing.  But,  while  i* 


THE  EIDDLE  OF  DEATH.  247 

turn  to  the  solemn  scene  of  dissolution,  and  ask 
whether  there  does  not  sometimes  occur,  under  one 
or  two  perhaps  of  its  hundred  forms,  some  incidents 
which  point  in  the  direction  of  the  great  fact 
which  we  believe  to  be  actually  in  process  of  realiza- 
tion ?  According  to  our  common  conviction,  there  is 
a  moment  of  time  when  the  man  whom  we  have 
known  in  his  garb  of  flesh  casts  it  aside,  actually,  so 
to  speak,  before  our  eyes,  and  "  this  mortal  puts 
on  immortality."  As  in  Blanco  White's  beautiful 
sonnet,  he  is,  like  Adam,  watching  his  first  sunset, 
and  trembling  to  lose  sight  of  the  world,  and  the 


remains  an  open  question  whether  we  are  not  talking  actual  nonsense 
when  we  speak  of  an  ever-living  created  being,  such  reflections  on  the 
moral  attributes  of  God  are  beside  the  mark.  No  justice  or  goodness  can 
be  involved  in  doing  that  which,  in  the  nature  of  things,  is  impossible. 

Now,  of  course,  there  is  a  little  confusion  here  between  a  future  life  — 
a  mere  post-mortem  addition  of  so  many  years  or  centuries  to  this 
mortal  existence  —  and  an  immortal  life,  which,  it  is  assumed,  will  con- 
tinue either  in  a  series  of  births  and  deaths  or  in  one  unbroken  life  for- 
ever and  ever.  In  the  former  idea,  no  one  can  find  any  self-contradiction. 
It  is  only  the  latter  notion  of  immortality,  strictly  so  described,  which  is 
suspected  of  involving  a  contradiction.  Practically,  however,  the  two 
ideas  must  stand  or  fall  together;  for  almost  every  argument  for  the 
survival  of  the  soul  after  death  bears  with  double  force  against  its  extinc- 
tion at  any  subsequent  epoch  of  its  existence. 

Taking  then  the  future  life  of  a  man  as,  to  all  intents  and  purposes, 
the  immortal  life,  we  are  bound  to  confront  the  difficulty,—  "  What  right 
have  we  to  assume  that  immortality  and  creaturehood  are  compatible  the 
one  with  the  other?  " 

A  priori  argument  on  such  a  matter  is  altogether  futile.  We  know 
and  can  reason  literally  nothing  about  it.  For  anything  we  could  urge 


248  THE  PEAK  IN  DARIEN  : 

question  to  be  solved  is  whether  darkness  has  en- 
shrouded him,  or  whether 

"  Hesperus  with  the  hosts  of  heaven  came, 
And,  lo  !  Creation  widened  in  his  view" ; 

and  he  may  have  asked  himself, — 

"Who  would  have  thought  such  darkness  lay  concealed 
Within  thy  beams,  O  Sun  ?  or  deemed, 
While  flower  and  leaf  and  insect  stood  revealed, 
That  to  such  countless  orbs  thou  mad'st  us  blind  ?  " 

and  life,  like  light,  had  been  only  a  deception  and 
a  veil. 

We  have  walked  iu  company  with  our  brother, 
perchance  for  years,  through  the  "  wilderness  of  this 
world,"  over  its  arid  plains  of  toil  and  through  its 
sweet  valleys  of  love  and  pleasure;  and  then  we 
have  begun  to  climb  the  awful  Andes  which  have 

antecedent  to  the  observation  of  a  man's  actual  state,  it  was,  apparently, 
just  as  probable  that  he  could  not  be  made  immortal  as  that  he  could 
be  made  so  by  any  conceivable  power  in  the  universe.  But  we  are  not 
quite  in  the  position  of  lacking  all  such  a  posteriori  assistance  to  our 
judgment.  We  can  see  how  God  has  actually  constituted  the  human  race, 
and  the  problem  is  consequently  modified  to  this  :  "  Are  there  any  signs 
or  tokens  that  man  is  meant  for  something  more  than  a  mere  mundane 
existence?"  It  is  obvious  that,  if  immortality  were  an  attribute  which 
in  the  nature  of  things  he  could  never  share,  nothing  in  his  mental  or 
moral  constitution  would  have  been  made  with  any  reference  to  such  an 
unattainable  destiny.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  there  be  in  his  nature  evi- 
dences of  a  purpose  extending  beyond  the  scope  of  this  life,  and  stretch- 
ing out  into  the  limitless  perspective  of  eternity,  then  we  are  authorized  to 


THE  KIDDLE  OF  DEATH.  249 

always  loomed  before  us  at  our  journey's  end, — 
their  summits  against  the  sky, —  and  beyond  them 
the  undiscovered  land.  Onward,  a  little  before 
us,  as  chance  may  decide,  our  companion  perhaps 
mounts  the  last  acclivity;  and  we  see  him  slowly 
approach  the  mountain's  crown,  while  our  lagging 
steps  yet  linger  on  the  slopes  below.  Sometimes, 
ere  he  reach  the  hill-top,  he  is  enveloped  in  cloud, 
and  then  we  see  him  no  more  ;  but  again,  sometimes, 
he  remains  in  the  full  sunlight,  and  though  distant 
from  us,  and  beyond  the  reach  of  our  voice,  it  is  yet 
possible  for  us  to  watch  his  attitude  and  motions. 
Now,  we  see  him  nearing  the  summit.  A  few  steps 
more,  and  there  must  break  on  his  vision  whatever 
there  may  be  of  the  unknown  world  beyond, —  a 
howling  wilderness  or  a  great  Pacific  of  joy.  Does 
he  seem,  as  that  view  bursts  on  him,  whatsoever  it 


draw  the  inference  that  the  Author  of  his  being  planned  for  him  a  f uture 
existence,  and,  of  course,  knew  that  he  might  enjoy  that  divine  heritage. 

Here,  then,  the  argument  lies  in  manageable  shape  before  us.  It  is 
true  we  only  see  a  small  portion  of  humanity,  as  it  has  yet  been  drawn 
out ;  but  just  as  mathematicians  can  determine,  from  any  three  given 
points,  the  nature  of  the  curve  to  which  they  belong,  so  we  have  enough 
indications  to  guide  us  to  a  conclusion  respecting  the  character  of  our 
race.  In  every  department  of  our  nature,  save  our  perishable  bodies,  we 
find  something  which  seems  to  point  beyond  our  threescore  years  and 
ten,— something  inconsistent  with  the  hypothesis  that  those  years  com- 
plete our  intended  existence.  Our  busy  intellects,  persistently  wrestling 
with  the  mysteries  of  eternity  ;  our  human  affections  craving  for  undying 
love ;  our  sense  of  justice,  born  of  no  past  experience  of  a  reign  of  Astma, 


250  THE  PEAK  IN  DAEIEN : 

may  be, —  does  lie  seem  to  be  inspired  with  hope  or 
cast  down  with  despair  ?  Do  his  arms  drop  in  con- 
sternation, or  does  he  lift  them  aloft  with  one  glad 
gesture  of  rapture,  ere  he  descend  the  farther  slope, 
and  is  lost  to  our  sight  forever  ? 

It  appears  to  me  that  we  may,  though  with  much 
diffidence,  answer  this  question  as  regards  some  of 
our  comrades  in  life's  journey,  who  have  gone  before 
us,  and  of  whom  the  last  glimpse  has  been  one  full 
of  strange,  mysterious,  but  most  joyful  promise. 
Let  us  inquire  into  the  matter  calmly,  making  due 
allowance  both  for  natural  exaggeration  of  mourn- 
ing friends,  who  recall  the  most  affecting  scenes,  and 
also  for  the  probable  presence  of  cerebral  disturb- 
ance and  hallucination  at  the  moment  of  physical 
dissolution. 

Of  course,  it  is  quite  possible  that  the  natural  law 
of  death  may  be  that  the  departed  always  sink  into 

but  resolutely  prophesying,  in  spite  of  experience,  a  perfect  judgment 
hereafter ;  the  measureless  meaning  which  moral  distinctions  carry  to 
our  consciences ;  the  unutterable  longing  of  our  spirits  for  union  (not 
wholly  unattained  even  here)  with  the  living  God,  the  Father  of  spirits,— 
all  these  things  seem  to  show  that  we  are  built,  so  to  speak,  on  a  larger 
scale  than  that  of  our  earthly  life.  The  foundations  are  too  deep  and 
wide,  the  corner-stones  are  by  far  too  massive,  if  nothing  but  the  Taberna- 
cle of  a  day  be  the  design  of  the  Architect.  In  brief,  then,  we  may  admit 
freely  that,  for  aught  we  know,  "  God  could  not  give  to  a  triangle  the 
properties  of  a  circle,"  and  yet,  nevertheless,  hold  our  faith  undisturbed, 
since  we  find  that  the  line  which  His  hand  has  actually  drawn  is  a  CURVE 
already,— a,  few  degrees  of  the  circumference  of  a  stupendous  circle. 


THE   RIDDLE   OF   DEATH.  251 

a  state  of  unconsciousness,  and  rather  dip  beneath 
a  Lethe  than  leap  a  Rubicon.  It  is  likewise  possi- 
ble that  the  faculties  of  a  disembodied  soul,  what- 
ever that  may  be,  may  need  time  and  use,  like  those 
of  an  infant,  before  they  can  be  practically  employed. 
But  there  is  also  at  least  a  possibility  that  con- 
sciousness is  not  always  lost,  but  is  continuous 
through  the  passage  from  one  life  to  another,  and 
that  it  expands  rather  than  closes  at  the  moment 
when  the  bonds  of  the  flesh  are  broken,  and  the  man 
enters  into  possession  of  his  higher  powers  and 
vaster  faculties,  symbolled  by  the  beautiful  old 
emblem  of  Psyche's  emancipated  butterfly  quitting 
the  shell  of  the  chrysalis.*  In  this  latter  case  there 
is  a  certain  prima  facie  presumption  that  close  ob- 
servation ought  to  permit  us  occasionally  to  obtain 
some  brief  glimpse,  some  glance,  though  but  of 


*  There  is  an  insect,  the  Lunar  Sphinx  Moth,  which  exhibits,  in  its 
first  stage,  not  only  the  usual  prevision  for  its  security  while  in  the  help- 
less chrysalis  state,  but  a  singular  foresight  of  its  own  requirements 
when  it  shall  have  become  a  winged  moth.  Having  made,  by  eating  its 
way  upward  through  the  pith  of  a  willow,  an  appropriate  hiding-place,  it 
finds  itself  with  its  head  in  a  position  in  which,  were  it  to  become  a  moth, 
it  could  never  push  itself  down,  and  escape  at  the  aperture  below.  The 
little  creature  accordingly,  before  it  goes  to  sleep,  laboriously  turns  round, 
and  places  its  head  near  the  entrance,  where,  as  a  moth,  it  will  make  its 
happy  exit  into  the  fields  of  air.  There  seems  something  curiously  akin 
in  the  unaccountable  foresight  of  this  insect,  of  a  state  of  existence  it  has 
never  experienced,  and  the  vague  and  dim  sentiment  of  immortality, 
common  to  mankind  since  the  days  of  the  cave-dwellers  of  the  Stone  Age. 


252  THE  PEAK  IN  DARIEN  : 

lightning  swiftness  and  evanescence,  revealing  par- 
tially this  transcendent  change. 

In  a  majority  of  deaths,  the  accompanying  physical 
conditions  hide  from  the  spectators  whatever  psycho- 
logical phenomena  may  be  taking  place.  The  sun 
of  our  poor  human  life  mostly  sets  behind  an  impen- 
etrable cloud.  Of  all  forms  of  death,  the  commonest 
appears  to  be  the  awful  "  agony  "  with  its  uncon- 
scious groans  and  stertorous  breath.  The  dying 
person  seems  to  sink  lower  and  lower,  as  if  beneath 
the  waters  of  an  unfathomable  sea ;  a  word,  a  motion, 
a  glance,  rising  up  at  longer  and  longer  intervals,  till 
the  last  slow  and  distant  sighs  terminate  the  woful 
strife,  and  the  victory  of  Death  is  complete.  When 
this  is  the  mode  of  dissolution,  it  is  of  course  hope- 
less to  look  for  any  indication  of  the  fate  of  the  soul 
at  its  exodus ;  and  the  same  holds  good  as  regards 
death  in  extreme  old  age,  or  after  exhausting  dis- 
ease, when  the  sufferer  very  literally  "falls  asleep." 
Again,  there  are  deaths  which  are  accompanied  by 
great  pain  or  delirium,  or  which  are  caused  by 
sudden  accidents,  altogether  hiding  from  our  obser- 
vation the  mental  condition  of  the  patient.  Only  in 
a  small  residue  of  cases,  the  bodily  conditions  are 
such  as  to  cause  neither  interference  with  nor  yet 
concealment  of  the  process  of  calm  and  peaceful  dis- 
solution in  the  full  light  of  mental  sanity  ;  and  it  is 


THE   EIDDLE   OF  DEATH.  253 

to  these  only  we  can  look  with  any  hope  of  fruitful 
observation.  I  ask  whether  in  such  cases  instances 
have  ever  been  known  of  occurrences  having  any 
significance  taken  in  connection  with  the  solemn 
event  wherewith  they  are  associated.  Does  our 
forerunner  on  the  hill-top  show  by  his  looks  and 
actions,  since  he  is  too  far  off  to  speak  to  us,  that  he 
beholds  from  his  "  Peak  in  Darien  "  an  Ocean  yet 
hidden  from  our  view  ? 

I  should  hesitate  altogether  to  affirm  positively 
that  such  is  the  case ;  but,  after  many  inquiries  on 
the  subject,  I  am  still  more  disinclined  to  assert  the 
contrary.  The  truth  seems  to  be  that,  in  almost 
every  family  or  circle,  a  question  will  elicit  recollec- 
tions of  death-bed  scenes,  wherein,  with  singular 
recurrence,  appears  one  very  significant  incident, — 
namely,  that  the  dying  person,  precisely  at  the 
moment  of  death,  and  when  the  power  of  speech 
was  lost,  or  nearly  lost,  seemed  to  see  something ;  or 
rather,  to  speak  more  exactly,  to  become  conscious 
of  something  present  (for  actual  sight  is  out  of 
question)  of  a  very  striking  kind,  which  remained 
invisible  to  and  unperceived  by  the  assistants. 
Again  and  again,  this  incident  is  repeated.  It  is 
described  almost  in  the  same  words  by  persons  who 
have  never  heard  of  similar  occurrences,  and  who 
suppose  their  own  experience  to  be  unique,  and  have 


254  THE  PEAK  IN  DABIEN  : 

raised  no  theory  upon  it,  but  merely  consider  it  to 
be  "strange,"  "curious,"  "affecting,"  and  nothing 
more.  It  is  invariably  explained  that  the  dying 
person  is  lying  quietly,  when  suddenly,  in  the  very 
act  of  expiring,  he  looks  up, —  sometimes  starts  up 
in  bed, —  and  gazes  on  (what  appears  to  be)  vacancy 
with  an  expression  of  astonishment,  sometimes 
developing  instantly  into  joy,  and  sometimes  cut 
short  in  the  first  emotion  of  solemn  wonder  and 
awe.  If  the  dying  man  were  to  see  some  utterly 
unexpected  but  instantly  recognized  vision,  causing 
him  a  great  surprise  or  rapturous  joy,  his  face  could 
not  better  reveal  the  fact.  The  very  instant  this 
phenomenon  occurs,  death  is  actually  taking  place, 
and  the  eyes  glaze  even  while  they  gaze  at  the 
unknown  sight.  If  a  breath  or  two  still  heave  the 
chest,  it  is  obvious  that  the  soul  has  already  departed. 

A  few  narrations  of  such  observations,  chosen 
from  a  great  number  which  have  been  communicated 
to  the  writer,  will  serve  to  show  more  exactly  the 
point  which  it  is  desired  should  be  established  by 
a  larger  concurrence  of  testimony.  The  following 
are  given  in  the  words  of  a  friend  on  whose  accuracy 
every  reliance  may  be  placed :  — 

"I  have  heard  numberless  instances  of  dying 
persons  showing  unmistakably  by  their  gestures, 
and  sometimes  by  their  words,  that  they  saw  in  the 


THE  EIDDLE   OF   DEATH.  255 

moment  of  dissolution  what  could  not  be  seen  by 
those  around  them.  On  three  occasions,  facts  of  this 
nature  came  distinctly  within  my  own  knowledge; 
and  I  will  therefore  limit  myself  to  a  detail  of  that 
which  I  can  give  on  my  own  authority,  although  the 
circumstances  were  not  so  striking  as  many  others 
known  to  me,  which  I  believe  to  be  equally  true. 

"I  was  watching  one  night  beside  a  poor  man 
dying  of  consumption.  His  case  was  hopeless,  but 
there  was  no  appearance  of  the  end  being  very  near. 
He  was  in  full  possession  of  his  senses,  able  to  talk 
with  a  strong  voice,  and  not  in  the  least  drowsy. 
He  had  slept  through  the  day,  and  was  so  wakeful 
that  I  had  been  conversing  with  him  on  ordinary 
subjects  to  while  away  the  long  hours.  Suddenly, 
while  we  were  thus  talking  quietly  together,  he 
became  silent,  and  fixed  his  eyes  on  one  particular 
spot  in  the  room,  which  was  entirely  vacant,  even 
of  furniture.  At  the  same  time,  a  look  of  the  greatest 
delight  changed  the  whole  expression  of  his  face, 
and,  after  a  moment  of  what  seemed  to  be  intense 
scrutiny  of  some  object  invisible  to  me,  he  said  to 
me  in  a  joyous  tone,  'There  is  Jim.'  Jim  was  a 
little  son  whom  he  had  lost  the  year  before,  and 
whom  I  had  known  well;  but  the  dying  man  had 
a  son  still  living,  named  John,  for  whom  we  had 
sent,  and  I  concluded  it  was  of  John  he  was  speak- 


256  THE  PEAK  IN  DABIEN  : 

ing,  and  that  he  thought  he  heard  him  arriving.  So 
I  answered, — 

" 4  No.     John  has  not  been  able  to  come.' 

"  The  man  turned  to  me  impatiently,  and  said : 
4 1  do  not  mean  John,  I  know  he  is  not  here :  it  is 
Jim,  my  little  lame  Jim.  Surely,  you  remember 
him?' 

" '  Yes,'  I  said,  '  I  remember  dear  little  Jim  who 
died  last  year  quite  well.' 

"' Don't  you  see  him,  then?  There  he  is,'  said 
the  man,  pointing  to  the  vacant  space  on  which  his 
eyes  were  fixed;  and,  when  I  did  not  answer,  he 
repeated  almost  fretfully,  4  Don't  you  see  him  stand- 
ing there  ? ' 

"I  answered  that  I  could  not  see  him,  though  I 
felt  perfectly  convinced  that  something  was  visible 
to  the  sick  man,  which  I  could  not  perceive.  When 
I  gave  him  this  answer,  he  seemed  quite  amazed,  and 
turned  round  to  look  at  me  with  a  glance  almost  of 
indignation.  As  his  eyes  met  mine,  I  saw  that  a 
film  seemed  to  pass  over  them,  the  light  of  intelli- 
gence died  away,  he  gave  a  gentle  sigh  and  expired. 
He  did  not  live  five  minutes  from  the  time  he  first 
said,  4  There  is  Jim,'  although  there  had  been  no  sign 
of  approaching  death  previous  to  that  moment. 

"  The  second  case  was  that  of  a  boy  about  fourteen 
years  of  age,  dying  also  of  decline.  He  was  a  re- 


THE   RIDDLE   OF   DEATH.  257 

fined,  highly  educated  child,  who  throughout  his 
long  illness  had  looked  forward  with  much  hope  and 
longing  to  the  unknown  life  to  which  he  believed 
he  was  hastening.  On  a  bright  summer  morning,  it 
became  evident  that  he  had  reached  his  last  hour. 
He  lost  the  power  of  speech,  chiefly  from  weakness ; 
but  he  was  perfectly  sensible,  and  made  his  wishes 
known  to  us  by  his  intelligent  looks.  He  was  sit- 
ting propped  up  in  bed,  and  had  been  looking  rather 
sadly  at  the  bright  sunshine  playing  on  the  trees 
outside  his  open  window  for  some  time.  He  had 
turned  away  from  this  scene,  however,  and  was 
facing  the  end  of  the  room,  where  there  was  nothing 
whatever  but  a  closed  door,  when  all  in  a  moment 
the  whole  expression  of  his  face  changed  to  one  of 
the  most  wondering  rapture,  which  made  his  half- 
closed  eyes  open  to  their  utmost  extent,  while  his 
lips  parted  with  a  smile  of  perfect  ecstasy.  It  was 
impossible  to  doubt  that  some  glorious  sight  was 
visible  to  him ;  and,  from  the  movement  of  his  eyes,  it 
was  plain  that  it  was  not  one,  but  many  objects  011 
which  he  gazed,  for  his  look  passed  slowly  from  end 
to  end  of  what  seemed  to  be  the  vacant  wall  before 
him,  going  back  and  forward  with  ever-increasing 
delight  manifested  in  his  whole  aspect.  His  mother 
then  asked  him,  if  what  he  saw  was  some  wonderful 
sight  beyond  the  confines  of  this  world,  to  give  her  a 


258  THE  PEAK  IN  DARIEN : 

token  that  it  was  so  by  pressing  her  hand.  He  at 
once  took  her  hand,  and  pressed  it  meaningly,  giving 
thereby  an  intelligent  affirmative  to  her  question, 
though  unable  to  speak.  As  he  did  so,  a  change 
passed  over  his  face,  his  eyes  closed,  and  in  a  few 
minutes  he  was  gone. 

"  The  third  case,  which  was  that  of  my  own 
brother,  was  very  similar  to  this  last.  He  was  an 
elderly  man,  dying  of  a  painful  disease,  but  one 
which  never  for  a  moment  obscured  his  faculties. 
Although  it  was  known  to  be  incurable,  he  had  been 
told  that  he  might  live  some  months,  when  some- 
what suddenly  the  summons  came  on  a  dark  Janu- 
ary morning.  It  had  been  seen  in  the  course  of  the 
night  that  he  was  sinking ;  but  for  some  time  he  had 
been  perfectly  silent  and  motionless,  apparently  in  a 
state  of  stupor,  his  eyes  closed  arid  his  breathing 
scarcely  perceptible.  As  the  tardy  dawn  of  the 
winter  morning  revealed  the  rigid  features  of  the 
countenance  from  which  life  and  intelligence  seemed 
to  have  quite  departed,  those  who  watched  him  felt 
uncertain  whether  he  still  lived ;  but  suddenly,  while 
they  bent  over  him  to  ascertain  the  truth,  he  opened 
his  eyes  wide,  and  gazed  eagerly  upward  with  such 
an  unmistakable  expression  of  wonder  and  joy  that 
a  thrill  of  awe  passed  through  all  who  witnessed  it. 
His  whole  face  grew  bright  with  a  strange  gladness, 


THE   RIDDLE   OF  DEATH.  259 

while  the  eloquent  eyes  seemed  literally  to  shine,  as 
if  reflecting  some  light  on  which  they  gazed.  He 
remained  in  this  attitude  of  delighted  surprise  for 
some  minutes,  then  in  a  moment  the  eyelids  fell,  the 
head  drooped  forward,  and  with  one  long  breath  the 
spirit  departed." 

A  different  kind  of  case  from  those  above  narrated 
by  my  friend  was  that  of  a  young  girl  known  to  me, 
who  had  passed  through  the  miserable  experiences 
of  a  sinful  life  at  Aldershot,  and  then  had  tried  to 
drown  herself  in  the  river  Avon,  near  Clifton.  She 
was  in  some  way  saved  from  suicide,  and  placed  for 
a  time  in  a  penitentiary ;  but  her  health  was  found 
to  be  hopelessly  ruined,  and  she  was  sent  to  die  in 
the  quaint  old  workhouse  of  St.  Peter's  at  Bristol. 
For  many  months,  she  lay  in  the  infirmary,  literally 
perishing  piecemeal  of  disease,  but  exhibiting  pa- 
tience and  sweetness  of  disposition  quite  wonderful 
to  witness.  She  was  only  eighteen,  poor  young 
creature,  when  all  her  little  round  of  error  and  pain 
had  been  run  ;  and  her  innocent,  pretty  face  might 
have  been  that  of  a  child.  She  never  used  any  sort 
of  cant  (so  common  among  women  who  have  been 
in  Refuges),  but  had  apparently  somehow  got  hold 
of  a  very  living  and  real  religion,  which  gave  her 
comfort  and  courage,  and  inspired  her  with  the 


260  THE  PEAK   IN  DARIEN  : 

beautiful  spirit  with  which  she  bore  her  frightful 
sufferings.  On  the  wall  opposite  her  bed,  I  had 
hung  by  chance  a  print  of  the  "  Lost  Sheep  " ;  and 
Mary  S.,  looking  at  it  one  day,  said  to  me,  "That 
is  just  what  I  was  and  what  happened  to  me ;  but  I 
am  being  brought  safe  home  now."  For  a  long  time 
before  her  death,  her  weakness  was  such  that  she 
was  quite  incapable  of  lifting  herself  up  in  bed, 
or  of  supporting  herself  when  lifted ;  and  she,  of 
course,  continued  to  lie  with  her  head  on  the 
pillow,  while  life  gradually  and  painfully  ebbed 
away,  and  she  seemingly  became  nearly  uncon- 
scious. In  this  state  she  had  been  left  one  Satur- 
day night  by  the  nurse  in  attendance.  Early  at 
dawn  next  morning, —  an  Easter  morning,  as  it 
chanced, —  the  poor  old  women  who  occupied  the 
other  beds  in  the  ward  were  startled  from  their 
sleep  by  seeing  Mary  S.  suddenly  spring  up  to  a 
sitting  posture  in  her  bed,  with  her  arms  out- 
stretched and  her  face  raised,  as  if  in  a  perfect 
rapture  of  joy  and  welcome.  The  next  instant, 
the  body  of  the  poor  girl  fell  back  a  corpse.  Her 
death  had  taken  place  in  that  moment  of  mysteri- 
ous ecstasy. 

A  totally  different  case  again  was  told  me  by  the 
daughter  of  a  man  of  high  intellectual  distinction, 
well  known  in  the  world  of  letters.  When  dying 


THE  BIDDLE  OF  DEATH.  261 

peacefully,  as  became  the  close  of  a  profoundly 
religious  life,  he  was  observed  by  his  daughter 
suddenly  to  look  up  as  if  at  some  spectacle  invisi- 
ble to  those  around,  with  an  expression  of  solemn 
surprise  and  awe,  very  characteristic,  it  is  said,  of 
his  habitual  frame  of  mind.  At  that  instant,  and 
before  the  look  had  time  to  falter  or  change,  the 
shadow  of  death  passed  over  his  face,  and  the  end 
had  come. 

In  yet  another  case,  I  am  told  that  at  the  last 
moment  so  bright  a  light  seemed  suddenly  to  shine 
from  the  face  of  a  dying  man  that  the  clergyman 
and  another  friend  who  were  attending  him  actually 
turned  simultaneously  to  the  window  to  seek  for  the 
cause. 

Another  incident  of  a  very  striking  character  was 
described  as  having  occurred  in  a  family  united  very 
closely  by  affection.  A  dying  lady,  exhibiting  the 
aspect  of  joyful  surprise  to  which  we  have  so  often 
referred,  spoke  of  seeing,  one  after  another,  three  of 
her  brothers  who  had  long  been  dead,  and  then, 
apparently,  recognized  last  of  all  a  fourth  brother, 
who  was  believed  by  the  bystanders  to  be  still  living 
in  India.  The  coupling  of  his  name  with  that  of 
his  dead  brothers  excited  such  awe  and  horror  in 
the  mind  of  one  of  the  persons  present  that  she 
rushed  from  the  room.  In  due  course  of  time, 


262  THE  PEAK  IN  DABIEN  : 

letters  were  received  announcing  the  death  of  the 
brother  in  India,  which  had  occurred  some  time 
before  his  dying  sister  seemed  to  recognize  him. 

Again,  in  another  case,  a  gentleman  who  had  lost 
his  only  son  some  years  previously,  and  who  had 
never  recovered  from  the  afflicting  event,  exclaimed 
suddenly  when  dying,  with  the  air  of  a  man 
making  a  most  rapturous  discovery,  "I  see  him! 
I  see  him!" 

Not  to  multiply  such  anecdotes  too  far, —  anec- 
dotes which  certainly  possess  a  uniformity  pointing 
to  some  similar  cause,  whether  that  cause  be  physi- 
ological or  psychical, —  I  will  now  conclude  with 
one  authenticated  by  a  near  relative  of  the  persons 
concerned.  A  late  colonial  bishop  was  commonly 
called  by  his  sisters  "  Charlie,"  and  his  eldest  sister 
bore  the  pet  name  of  "  Liz."  They  had  both  been 
dead  for  some  years,  when  their  younger  sister, 
Mrs.  W.,  also  died,  but  before  her  death  ap- 
peared to  behold  them  both.  While  lying  still  and 
apparently  unconscious,  she  suddenly  opened  her 
eyes  and  looked  earnestly  across  the  room,  as  if  she 
saw  some  one  entering.  Presently,  as  if  overjoyed, 
she  exclaimed,  "  O  Charlie ! "  and  then,  after  a 
moment's  pause,  with  a  new  start  of  delight,  as  if  he 
had  been  joined  by  some  one  else,  she  went  on,  "And 
Liz ! "  and  then  added,  "  How  beautiful  you  are ! " 


THE  RIDDLE   OF  DEATH.  26o 

After  seeming  to  gaze  at  the  two  beloved  forms  for 
a  few  minutes,  she  fell  back  on  her  pillow  and  died. 

An  instance  —  in  many  respects  especially  note- 
worthy —  of  a  similar  impression  of  the  presence  of 
the  dead  conveyed  through  another  sense  besides 
sight  is  recorded  in  Caroline  Fox's  charming  Jour- 
nals, Vol.  II.,  p.  247.  She  notes  under  date  Sep- 
tember 5,  1856,  as  follows :  — 

"  M.  A.  Schimmelpenninck  is  gone.  She  said  just 
before  her  death,  '  Oh,  I  hear  such  beautiful  voices, 
and  the  children's  are  the  loudest. ' ' 

Can  any  old  Italian  picture  of  the  ascending 
Madonna,  with  the  cloud  of  cherub  heads  forming  a 
glory  of  welcome  around  her  as  she  enters  the  higher 
world,  be  more  significant  than  this  actual  fact  —  so 
simply  told  —  of  a  saintly  woman  in  dying  hearing 
"  beautiful  voices,  and  the  children's  the  loudest "  ? 
Of  course,  like  all  the  rest,  it  may  have  been  only 
a  physiological  phenomenon,  a  purely  subjective 
impression;  but  it  is  at  least  remarkable  that  a 
second  sense  should  thus  be  under  the  same  glamour, 
and  that  again  we  have  to  confront,  in  the  case  of 
hearing  as  of  sight,  the  anomaly  of  the  (real  or  sup- 
posed) presence  of  the  beautiful  and  the  delightful, 
instead  of  the  terrible  and  the  frightful,  while  Nature 
is  in  the  pangs  of  dissolution.  Does  the  brain, 
then,  unlike  every  known  instrument,  give  forth  its 
sweetest  music  as  its  chords  are  breaking  ? 


264  THE  PEAK  IN  DABIEN  : 

Instances  like  those  recorded  in  this  paper  might, 
I  believe,  be  almost  indefinitely  multiplied,  were 
attention  directed  to  them,  and  the  experience  of 
survivors  more  generally  communicated  and  re- 
corded. Reviewing  them,  the  question  seems  to 
press  upon  us,  Why  should  we  not  thus  catch  a 
glimpse  of  the  spiritual  world  through  that  half- 
open  portal  wherein  our  dying  brother  is  passing? 
If  the  soul  of  man  exist  at  all  after  the  extinction 
of  the  life  of  the  body,  what  is  more  probable  than 
that  it  should  begin  at  the  very  instant  when  the 
veil  of  the  flesh  is  dropping  off  to  exercise  those 
spiritual  powers  of  perception  which  we  must  sup- 
pose it  to  possess  (else  were  its  whole  after-life  a 
blank),  and  to  become  conscious  of  other  things 
than  those  of  which  our  dim  senses  can  take  cogni- 
zance? If  it  be  not  destined  to  an  eternity  of 
solitude  (an  absurd  hypothesis),  its  future  compan- 
ions may  well  be  recognized  at  once,  even  as  it  goes 
forth  to  meet  them.  It  seems  indeed  almost  a  thing 
to  be  expected  that  some  of  them  should  be  ready 
waiting  to  welcome  it  on  the  threshold.  Is  there 
not,  then,  a  little  margin  for  hope,  if  not  for  any 
confident  belief,  that  our  fondest  anticipations  will 
be  verified ;  nay,  that  the  actual  experience  of  many 
has  already  verified  them?  May  it  not  be  that, 
when  that  hour  comes  for  each  of  us  which  we  have 


THE   RIDDLE   OF  DEATH.  265 

been  wont  to  dread  as  one  of  parting  and  sorrow, — 

"  The  last  long  farewell  on  the  shore 
Of  this  rude  world," 

ere  we  "put  off  into  the  unknown  dark," — we  may 
find  that  we  only  leave  for  a  little  time  the  friends 
of  earth  to  go  straight  to  the  embrace  of  those  who 
have  long  been  waiting  for  us  to  make  perfect  for 
them  the  nobler  life  beyond  the  grave  ?  May  it  not 
be  that  our  very  first  dawning  sense  of  that  enfran- 
chised existence  will  be  the  rapture  of  reunion  with 
the  beloved  ones  whom  we  have  mourned  as  lost,  but 
who  have  been  standing  near,  waiting  longingly  for 
our  recognition,  as  a  mother  may  watch  beside  the 
bed  of  a  fever-stricken  child,  till  reason  reillumines 
its  eyes,and  with  outstretched  arms  it  cries  "Mother." 
There  are  doubtless  some  to  whom  it  would  be 
very  dreadful  to  think  of  thus  meeting  on  the  thresh- 
old of  eternity  the  wronged,  the  deceived,  the  for- 
saken. But  for  most  of  us,  God  be  thanked,  no 
dream  of  celestial  glory  has  half  the  ecstasy  of  the 
thought  that  in  dying  we  may  meet  —  and  meet  at 
once,  before  we  have  had  a  moment  to  feel  the  awful 
loneliness  of  death  —  the  parent,  wife,  husband, 
child,  friend  of  our  life,  soul  of  our  soul,  whom  we 
consigned  long  ago  with  breaking  hearts  to  the 
grave.  Their  "beautiful"  forms  (as  that  dying 


266  THE   PEAK  IN  DAKIEN. 

lady  beheld  her  brother  and  sister)  entering  our 
chamber,  standing  beside  our  bed  of  death,  and 
come  to  rejoin  us  for  ever, —  what  words  can  describe 
the  happiness  of  such  a  vision  ?  It  may  be  awaiting 
us  all.  There  is  even,  perhaps,  a  certain  probability 
that  it  is  actually  the  natural  destiny  of  the  human 
soul,  and  that  the  affections  which  alone  of  earthly 
things  can  survive  dissolution  will,  like  magnets, 
draw  the  beloved  and  loving  spirits  of  the  dead 
around  the  dying.  I  can  see  110  reason  why  we 
should  not  indulge  so  ineffably  blessed  a  hope.  But, 
even  if  it  be  a  dream,  the  faith  remains,  built  on  no 
such  evanescent  and  shadowy  foundation,  that  there 
is  One  Friend, —  and  He  the  best, — in  whose  arms 
we  shall  surely  fall  asleep,  and  to  whose  love  we 
may  trust  for  the  reunion,  sooner  or  later,  of  the 
severed  links  of  sacred  human  affection. 


VERITABLE  HAND-BOOK  OF  NOBLE  LIVING." 


THE    DUTIES   OF   WOMEN, 

A  COURSE  OF  LECTURES 
By   FRANCES    POWER   COBBE. 


CRITICAL  NOTICES. 

An  eminent  American  clergyman,  writing  from  London,  says :  — 
"  It  Is  the  profoundest,  wisest,  purest,  noblest  book,  in  principle,  aim,  and  tone, 
yet  written  upon  the  True  Position  of  Woman  in  Society.  It  should  be  circu- 
lated far  and  wide  among  all  classes  of  our  countrywomen.  It  should  be  made 
a  class-book  in  pur  schools.  It  should  become  the  '  Hand-Book '  and  Vade  Mecum 
of  young  American  girls." 

"  As  I  turn  the  pages  of  this  book,  I  am  struck  with  its  candor,  sympathy,  and 
Insight,  and  wish  that  it  might  be  read  and  pondered  by  both  conservative  and 
radical  women.  The  former  might  learn  the  relation  of  freedom  to  duty,  and  the 
latter  may  well  consider  the  perils  which  surround  each  onward  step. . .  .  Miss 
Cobbe  might  have  called  her  book  'Old  Duties  in  New  Lights.'  It  must  help 
many  women  to  lead  sincere,  self-reliant  lives,  and  to  determine  at  critical 
moments  what  their  action  shall  be."—  Mrs.  Elizabeth  K.  Churchill,  in  the  Provi- 
dence Journal. 

"  The  best  of  all  books  on  'Women's  Duties.'  Now  that  George  Eliot  is  gone, 
there  is  probably  no  woman  in  England  so  well  equipped  for  general  literary 
work  as  Miss  Cobbe."—  Col.  T.  Wentworth  Higginson,  in  Woman's  Journal. 

"  I  desire  to  commend  it  to  the  careful  perusal  of  women  in  our  own  country, 
as  a  book  full  of  timely  counsel  and  suggestion,  and  to  all,  as  a  valuable  contri- 
bution to  the  literature  of  ethics."—  Juha  Ward  Howe,  in  Christian  Register. 

"  Just  now,  the  first  •  Duty  of  Women '  is  to  read  this  whole  book  with  studious 
self-application;  for  it  is  rich  in  saving  common  sense,  warm  with  the  love  of 
man,  and  consecrated  by  the  love  of  God."— Miss  Harriet  Ware  Hall,  in  Unitarian 
Review. 

"  What  is  best  in  the  whole  book  is  that  she  founds  hei  teaching  for  women  so 
strongly  in  the  deepest  and  simplest  moral  principles  that  her  thoughts  come 
with  a  force  and  breadth  which  win  for  them  at  once  a  respectable  hearing."— 
London  Spectator. 

"  One  of  the  notable  books  of  the  season.  . . .  No  true  woman  can  read  these 
lectures  without  being  stirred  by  them  to  completer  life."— Morning  Star. 

"In  Miss  Cobbe's  latest  book, '  The  Duties  of  Women,'  there  is  much  to  be  com- 
mended for  its  common  sense  and  its  helpfulness.  Miss  Cobbe  goes  down  to  the 
principles  underlying  the  topics  of  which  she  speaks;  and  the  strength  with 
which  she  utters  her  thoughts  is  the  strength  of  conviction  and  of  earnest  pur- 
pose."— Sunday  School  Times. 

"  This  is  the  very  volume  needed  for  parents  to  intrust  to  their  daughters 
when  leaving  home  for  school,  and  for  earnest  friends  to  offer  young  brides,  as 
a  wedding  gift." 

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A    YEAR    OF    MIRACLE. 

A  Poem  in  Four  Sermons. 
BY    WILLIAM    C.   GANNETT. 


CONTENTS. 

1.  Treasures  of  the  Snow.  3.  Flowers. 

2.  Resurrection.  4.   The  Harvest  Secret. 

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"The  thoughtful  reader  will  find  A  YEAR  OF  MIRACLE  a  source  of  genuine 
and  permanent  delight." — Boston  Transcript. 

"A  delightful  companion  for  an  hour  of  meditation." — Z ion's  Herald. 

"  The  sermons  are  wonderfully  beautiful.  They  are  veritable  poems,  and  poems 
of  a  high  order." — Woman's  Journal. 

"The  theme  is  hackneyed:  the  thing  is  not,  neither  is  Mr.  Gannett's  perform- 
ance. Such  discourses  would  grace  the  best  pulpit  anywhere." — Boston  Advertiser. 

"The  several  subjects  chosen  are  as  hackneyed  as  the  theme  of  a  school-girl's 
composition ;  but  the  treatment  is  singularly  rich,  fresh,  and  sparkling.  Mr.  Gannett 
combines  in  happy  measure  qualities  rarely  found  together, —  a  wide  range  of  reading 
and  observation,  with  brooding  thought  and  solitary  fancy,  the  naturalises  keen  sight 
and  the  poet's  deeper  insight.  His  study  of  the  outer  world  is  close  and  careful,  nis 
use  of  scientific  detail  and  illustration  apt  and  striking,  with  nothing  of  parade  and 
pedantry.  In  almost  every  page,  we  feel  the  finer  touch  of  genius,  and  a  deep  but 
unobtrusive  spirit  of  worship.  — Literary  World. 

"  We  doubt  if  more  exact  and  beautiful  writing  can  be  found  than  in  these  four 
sermons.  They  are  not  sermons,  judged  by  ordinary  homiletic  methods ;  but,  by  their 
effect  in  awakening  the  devotional  spirit,  they  are  eminently  so.  They  are  full  of 
science,  and  yet  fuliof  religion,  so  far  as  faith  in  and  reverence  for  the  Supreme  enter 
into  religion.  This  is  a  little  book,  but  a  full  book." — Christian  Advocate. 

"If  the  author  of  The  Imitation  had  the  genius  of  mediseval  piety,  Mr.  Gannett 
has  the  genius  of  the  religion  of  this  nineteenth  century.  Here  is  reverence,  here  is 

.  S .    i •      _  j : i .  _•         11    A_i   .  •       .1  » 


anywhere  will  be  found  thinking  and  believing  more  suggestive  and  helpful  in  these 
questioning  times  than  under  the  second  theme,  '  Resurrection.'  " — St.  Louis  Spec- 
tator. 

"  Mr.  Gannett  has  written  some  of  the  most  undying  religious  hymns  and  lyrical 
poems  in  the  language,  and  puts  a  wonderful  amount  of  soul  into  whatever  he  writes 
in  this  little  volume.  The  titles  give  an  inkling  of  what  the  little  book  contains.  It 
is  one  of  the  most  delightful  expositions  of  the  glory  and  divinity  of  the  outer  world 
that  has  ever  been  written.  It  is  in  the  vein  of  Wordsworth  and  Emerson  and  Lowell 
and  Herbert ;  and  whoever  enjoys  God's  great  world  outside  of  man's  heart  will  be 
glad  to  have  it  near  him  in  his  joyous  and  devout  moments." — Standard  of  the  Cross. 


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